The volumes and values of merchandise imports vary considerably from country to country. Natural resources such as petroleum, iron ore and minerals are unequally distributed across the world, a situation which necessitates a global trade. Petroleum products are the most imported natural resources due to the increasing global demand for energy. Some countries also boast superior technological prowess and advanced technology, leading to global demand for their manufactured merchandise. Machinery, electronics and electronic components, and vehicles are some of the top manufactured imports. The top global importing countries in 2015 are briefly looked at below.
The United States
The United States imported merchandise worth $2.308 trillion in 2015 to emerge as the largest global importer. The United States is a world leading economy and imports mainly due to its sheer size. The country imports merchandise such as crude petroleum, refined petroleum, vehicles and vehicle parts, computers, and consumer goods. The origin countries of the United States' imports, by total merchandise share, are China (18.7%), Canada (14.2%), Mexico (12.2%), Japan (6.4%), and Germany (4.8%).
China was the second largest importer globally at $1.682 Trillion worth of merchandise imports in 2015. China has a booming population, over 1 million people who are becoming global consumers because of globalization. China also imports heavily to support its rapid economic growth. Crude Petroleum is the top imported product in China to fuel its energy needs. In 2014 alone, crude petroleum imported in to the country was valued at $205 Billion. Other top imports are iron ore, electrical components, and machinery, medical equipment, cars, plastics and chemicals. China trades heavily with its neighbors, Japan and South Korea which make up 11.2% and 9.3% respectively of China’s total exports. The US also imports from China at 6.8% and Germany at 5.3%.
Germany imported merchandise valued at $1.050 Trillion in 2015. Although Germany is not abundantly blessed with natural resources, it boasts the third-largest economy in the world. Crude and refined petroleum are two of its major imports. Germany also imports machinery, data processing equipment, vehicle components, agricultural products, cars, computers, and pharmaceuticals. Germany imports heavily from China at 9.7% and Netherlands at 8.4% of its total imports. Other import origins are France at 7.6% and the US at 5.7%.
Japan's 2015 merchandise imports were valued at $648 Billion. Japan has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia and makes up for its inadequate natural resources through importation. Crude and refined petroleum and natural gas are the top imports by Japan. Other major imports are fish and fishery products, clothing, and agricultural produce. The top exporting country to Japan is China at 21.5% followed by the US at 8.9%, Australia at 6.6%, and Saudi Arabia at 5.9%.
High Demands in Wealthy Economies
In addition to Germany, Europe is home to three more of the global leaders in merchandise imports. These countries are the United Kingdom ($626 Billion), France ($573 Billion), and Netherlands ($559 Billion). Hong Kong, which is a major trade partner of China, imported merchandise worth $559 Billion. South Korea in Asia imported merchandise worth $436.5 Billion. Canada was also ranked as a major commodity importer at $436.4 Billion. Most of the top importing countries are also top exporting countries in the world. These countries boast developed economies which can export and import large volumes of merchandise and economically sustain their balance of trade.