Visualizing The Global Export Economy In One Map

President Trump has loudly complained for quite some time about U.S. trade deficits with the world, most recently following the latest G7 summit in Canada. Trump’s rhetoric implies that other countries are enjoying massive surpluses at the expense of American workers. This got us thinking about how the U.S. actually compares as an exporter in the world economy, so  created the following map.


As explains, the numbers sre from the World Trade Organization (navigate to the Statistics Database to locate the original data). The WTO tracks the total value of physical goods each country sends across its borders. Remember, these numbers exclude services - we are only focused on physical items. To create our map, we changed the size of the country depending on the value of exports, and we likewise added a shade of blue for easy reference. This approach highlights the outliers and identifies several key trends.

Top Ten Countries with the Most Exports in 2017 ($B)

1. China: $2,263B

2. United States: $1,547B

3. Germany: $1,448B

4. Japan: $698B

5. Netherlands: $652B

6. South Korea: $574B

7. Hong Kong: $550B

8. France: $535B

9. Italy: $506B

10. United Kingdom: $445B

The most obvious insight that our map contains about international trade is how unequal it is. A few countries dominate the very top of the list, and everybody else falls far behind. The top exporter, China, has 32% more exports than the second-place Americans. The top three countries generate more exports than the rest of the top 10 combined ($5,258B vs $3,960B). You can see this inequality on our map in how China, the U.S. and Germany dominate the visual forefront.

The second interesting takeaway is that there are several surprise countries, including most notably the Netherlands in the 5th spot ($652B). What could the Dutch possibly export to the rest of the world that would land them so high on our list (and give their country such a prominent place on our map)? It turns out they manufacture a lot of heavy machinery and oil, both of which spread far and wide on the international market.

There are also more than a few surprises at the other end of the spectrum. Several countries in Southeast Asia are extremely well known for having export-dependent economies, and yet none of them are anywhere near the top of the list. Go check to see where the things in your closet were made—we bet most of the items came from Vietnam, Malaysia or Indonesia. None of these countries crack $250B in total exports. But also look at Africa, where only a handful of countries have enough exports to make it on our map. Our visualization tells a sad story about the development of these economies.

And finally, it’s easy to believe listening to Trump’s rhetoric that the U.S. hardly sells anything to the rest of the world. Our map demonstrates how that’s just not true. With more than $1.5T in annual exports, Americans stand a lot to lose if a trade war continues to escalate and eventually becomes a reality.


bshirley1968 tmosley Sun, 06/24/2018 - 22:30 Permalink

While you're at it, why don't you explain to us why your man-crush is running around bitching and whining about trade deficits and how America is being used by the rest of the world?

So is Trump that stupid? Can the president not know simple information available to the average person or is he playing his role in theater of lies?

I would add that after you include the products that American companies make and sell IN China that don't get counted as "exports".....and the huge trade advantages we get because we have the only dollar "printing press" in existence, the trade imbalance is another myth of the kabuki theater invented to keep the sheeple engaged.

In reply to by tmosley

bshirley1968 tmosley Sun, 06/24/2018 - 23:21 Permalink

This informative article has been up over an hour and has twelve post. I see where you little bitches down voted my comments but can't refute them.

The facts of this article and it's obvious conclusion that the US does not suffer from any "trade deficit" throws cold water on the "tariffs are the answer and Trump is going save us all" narrative. I can see why there is a lack of enthusiasm.

In reply to by tmosley

bshirley1968 Mister Increedible Mon, 06/25/2018 - 08:42 Permalink

So let me get this straight, you're bitching because we buy more than we sell? Who's fault is that? Again....for all you stupid people.....we make and SELL a half a trillion products IN it doesn't get counted as stupid son of a bitch! When you are as stupid as you are, you are begging people to lie to you. One more time.....…

In reply to by Mister Increedible

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NoDebt Sun, 06/24/2018 - 22:25 Permalink

"A few countries dominate the very top of the list, and everybody else falls far behind."

Pareto distribution.  About as surprising as the sun coming up tomorrow morning.


jmack Sun, 06/24/2018 - 22:29 Permalink

Hong Kong is the big shocker,  it is basically a city state.  It is about the size of dallas, texas.   That is pretty incredible.

stacking12321 38BWD22 Mon, 06/25/2018 - 00:23 Permalink

I often sell computer parts to Hong Kong, and I know from there they are being snuck across the border to China to avoid  Chinese import tariffs, which are high.

For larger shipments, chinese customs officials will take bribes to let merchandise go through untaxed or under-taxed.

its very lucrative for the customs officials, so you have to pay soomething like $50k to get the job, for like a 5 year gig.

once every few years, China will crack down by picking out a couple of customs officers and publicly execute them with bullet to the head. That puts fear into people so the shenanigans stop for a bit, and a few months later they start up again.

In reply to by 38BWD22

LightBulb18 Mon, 06/25/2018 - 00:00 Permalink

So if I am adding this up correctly the European union is responsible for 6.264 Trillion dollars in exports per year?! To who? I consider hong kong part of china for long enough now, but that brings up the Chinese total to 2.813 Trillion per year in exports. What the heck are the Europeans exporting? It isn’t cars, it isn’t manufacturing, it certainly isn’t oil. I am hoping its not securities and bonds. Makes Americas 1.547 Trillion in yearly exports seem like nothing. Perhaps this is an European union trade thing. In G-d I trust.

DIGrif Mon, 06/25/2018 - 00:19 Permalink

Too bad this is only showing ONE side of the equation. How about we see IMPORTS? Then lets look at tariffs.......this article is pure horse shit.


mabuhay1 Mon, 06/25/2018 - 01:11 Permalink

Multi-polar World my ass, China has built their "empire of dust" on the backs of Americans.  They steal our technology and intellectual properties, they dump their crap on our markets at cut rates, and they restrict US companies access, investments, and human rights.


WallHoo Mon, 06/25/2018 - 01:50 Permalink

European exports are mostly a circle jerk between them excluding those of germany(but again most are within europe).And yet europe(as an economic block) runs the biggest trade surplus in the world,europes mercantilism would make china cry.


You wont find any 3000 euro brand new chinese cars there.Generally what the bigs manufacture is a no go,the rest not so much.


All hail germany...

Let it Go Mon, 06/25/2018 - 03:16 Permalink

The Euro-zone has entered a rough patch which in many ways is the result of years of inaction. Its banks are weak and concerns over the toll millions of newly arrived refugees will take on society are reaching a breaking point. 

This has created what Bloomberg describes as "an escalating crisis that threatens to unravel the bloc’s passport-free travel area and dissolve Germany’s governing coalition." Even trade is playing into this. More on the Euro-zones woes that continue to linger in the article below.

 http://The Euro-zone Has Few Good Options As It Enters A Rough Patch.html

sparkadore Mon, 06/25/2018 - 07:23 Permalink

I am curious as to what percent of these exports are made up of things that destroy like bombs and tanks and missiles.

Also what percent of exports are made up of transgenic products.

If you subtract these two evils what beneficial products do these countries export.?

opport.knocks Mon, 06/25/2018 - 07:52 Permalink

Afghanistan opium products are not included here obviously.

Also tourism should be counted as an export for the host country as it is a huge positive for any nation's balance of payments.