The World's Top Exporters of Tug Boats

Tugboats assisting cargo ship maneuver into port. Editorial credit: Sheila Fitzgerald /
Tugboats assisting cargo ship maneuver into port. Editorial credit: Sheila Fitzgerald /

A tugboat or simply a tug is a seas vessel that moves other seas vessels by either pushing or tugging them. There are two types of vessels that are moved by tugs: large vessels that should not move by themselves either in a crowded harbor or narrow canals, and those that cannot move such as ships with technical problems, barges, among others. Tugboats are extremely powerful for ships their size and may be used for other reasons than tugging boats like breaking ice, acting as salvage vessels, and firefighting. Tugboats are also known as floating docks or pusher crafts.

The Globe’s Top Exporters of Tugboats

According to the Product Complexity Index (PCI), tugboats rank 938th in the list of the most complex goods and are 624th in the most traded merchandise ranking. Statistics show that the top exporters of tugboats come from two continents in the world; Asia and Europe. India is the top exporter with total exports totaling figures of up to $814 million. China is second with exports worth $459 million, Russia is third with $276 million, Spain is fourth with exports totaling $134 million, and Turkey is last with its tugboats exports value totaling $115 million. From these, the combined value of tugboat exports from these strong economies is nearly close to the $2 billion mark.

Analysis of the above values show that there is a huge disparity between the top exporter, India, and the other four countries that complete the top five. Compared to the closest competitor, China, India exports tugboats whose worth is almost twice that of China. To put this data into further perspective, India exports at least seven times as much as the last country, Turkey. A similar disparity is seen between China and the other countries. China has almost as twice export as Russia and almost four times as much as the last country, Turkey.

India, the 18th biggest economy on the planet, exported goods worth $256 billion in the year 2016. Of the total exports, tugboats contributed a share of 0.3%. The world’s largest export economy, China, exported a total of $2.06 trillion with tugboats contributing a measly 0.022%. Total exports in the third country, Russia, were $282 billion. Tugboats had an approximate percentage share of 0.09%. For Spain, exports were worth $275 billion with tugboats contributing 0.049%. The last country, Turkey had total exports reaching $139 billion. Tugboats in Turkey contributed only 0.083%. Out of these figures, it is clear that the exports of tugboats is more important to India’s economy than any other country in the top five.

Other Notable Countries

Out of the top five where India’s total exports account for 35% of global tugboat exports, other notable contributors are Netherlands with 3.2%, Romania 2.6%, Japan with 4.8%, Malaysia with 2.1%, and Hong Kong with a share of 1.4%. Africa is the last continent in the ranking of total worth of tugboats exported among all the continents. Asia is the top exporter with a share of 73% followed by Europe with 26% share of the global tugboats exports.

The World's Top Exporters of Tug Boats

RankCountryExport Value (US Dollars)

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