Visualizing The World's Largest Importers In 2017

For most world leaders and corporate executives, the swing of the global pendulum to more protectionist policies has been an unpleasant surprise.

That’s because the consensus view from both economists and economic historians has been that measures like the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which triggered a trade war during the Great Depression, greatly exacerbated circumstances that were already quite dire.

It’s common for tariff increases to be countered by retaliatory measures, and this can often translate to lower levels of international trade and decreased economic growth across the board. During the period of 1929 to 1934, according to the U.S. State Department, world trade decreased by 66% – largely a result of subsequent trade wars after the passing of Smoot-Hawley.

For the above reasons, international barriers to trade have been falling for decades – until now, of course.


Which countries can throw their weight around the most with tariffs and retaliatory measures?

It’s those that import the most goods – and today’s infographic from shows the world’s largest importers in 2017, according to recently released data from the World Trade Organization.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

Here are the top 15 largest importers, globally:

The United States takes home the number one spot with $2,409 billion of imports in 2017, about 13.4% of the global total. It’s worth mentioning that this is $860 billion higher than the country’s exports in 2017, and that the difference between the two numbers is the hotly-debated trade deficit.

China and Germany come in the #2 and #3 spots respectively, with $1,842 billion (10.2% of global total) of imports for China and $1,167 billion (6.5% of total) for Europe’s largest economy.

After the big three, no other country has a number exceeding 5% of global imports, but Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Hong Kong (China), and the Netherlands all surpass the 3% mark.


luckylongshot Teamtc321 Thu, 07/12/2018 - 02:13 Permalink

Why are we still getting fed stories about global trade when history has shown that we live under a private bank controlled tyranny, all markets are rigged and all statistics are falsified?  Furthermore as things stand the US has a total debt of over $200 Trillion, meaning each tax payer owes $2 million plus interest. What this means is that the days of the US continuing to import lots of stuff are coming to an end as they are insolvent. How to deal with the debt is the story that needs to be told, not how much the indebted peasants have been importing.

In reply to by Teamtc321

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rsi1 Teamtc321 Thu, 07/12/2018 - 08:34 Permalink

these are stats for ignorants that want to support their illusions.

- the EU acts as a block, so treating it as individual countries is stupid. It makes as much sense as treating the US as separate states instead of as one block.

- within the EU, there are lots of cross border transactions so you would have to separate and remove those to make sense of this data.

In reply to by Teamtc321

Yen Cross Thu, 07/12/2018 - 01:17 Permalink

 For the life of me, can someone please explain why the U.S. sells crude overseas, outside of contango, and the cracking[distilate] costs?

  I just don't get it????

 if stagflation is heating up, and the yield curve is inverting, copper and gold,silver crashing, there must be some unaccounted for components of the contributors?

 The little junkster is in Singapore or H/K slapping his Salome on Xi Ping Pongs face?

CrazyCooter Yen Cross Thu, 07/12/2018 - 01:33 Permalink

I am not a professional in the industry, but my understanding is that logistics is the biggest factor and chemical make up is second. The first being that if a system can only move crude around in some volume in some direction by design (usually a function of pipelines and storage) then too much being pushed into the system with then try to find the highest bid it can as it can't find a traditional route to market.

Example: A pipeline is built to move imported crude (of a particular average chemical makeup) from Houston inland for market, but then fracking comes along, so the local inland market is flooded with light oil. If that fracked oil saturates the market, it might make more sense to get it to Houston and export than ship around the US without pipeline infrastructure.

This is one of the many reasons why some crudes discount to others - it isn't just the quality.

The whole keystone line (three major segments, the protests were only about the northern segment) was about getting oil from the interior to port (southern segments). It was going to flow out to export while everything else was flowing in. The segment from OK to TX went completely under the radar IIRC.

That said, the chemical make up, and how it might blend with other crudes and match to what refiners need is another big (complicated) variable because changing "tooling" to process crudes isn't fast or cheap (generally speaking).



In reply to by Yen Cross

Teamtc321 Yen Cross Thu, 07/12/2018 - 01:53 Permalink

Crude is an issue but the play is Nat gas IMHO. If you look at the infrastructure being built out of West Texas primarily, then East Texas and the Utica in mainly Ohio for Pipeline to exit fuels, the play is financing bound to volume. Firms have to raise the capital needed to buy the leases/acreage, then implement the infrastructure to retrieve the fuels, problem has been the yellow brick road to exit the fuels to ports or refineries. Literally Billions of Cubic Feet of Nat Gas stored waiting to be shipped. Trucking is just to costly for Liquids and way to much exposure on the liability side. Take a look at what Mark West Pinnacle just to name a one, is doing from Carlsbad NM to Pecos TX for example, to exit and pump fuels both Liquids and Nat Gas. Pipelines, then to replenish supply to outdated refineries......... 

Shutting a pipeline flow down now, is the click of a mouse. EXACTLY, what the Libtards can't even begin to understand why Trump suggested what he said recently about Germany and Russia's relationship. Fucking Idiots...


Just my opinion YC....... 



In reply to by Yen Cross

Golden Showers Thu, 07/12/2018 - 01:46 Permalink

Has anyone ever pushed their product into the hungry brown star of an importer and let swing the golden pendulum and ignored the protectionism?

But now it's bigger. And tighter.

The rewards are greater. Like a huge planet called Melencholia smashing into a small Earth over and over and over and over until the extatic forces, the orgone is released by lightening and the planet shutters and caves into a heaping pulp of quivering release of pent up trauma held by the musculature of the body and natural breath is established. A catharsis. A rebirth.

(Not much else to say about the idoiot director pent up fuck tard and sexual harrasser of said film. How else would he make the only man in total denial kill himself like a bitch?)

If I wasn't half elephant wanting to stampede on the human species and crush them underfoot I can just make fun of their trite butt sex fantasies and tickles.

Trade is good. But I wouldn't want to be importing more dick shit than any other country in the world. But that's what they think about you, whore.

MuffDiver69 Thu, 07/12/2018 - 01:56 Permalink

Sure...but China and Germany are importing raw materials and exporting finished goods/components and neither export much agricultural nor energy...Our export is roughly 10% of GDP and Germany is 50% etc....

Lembano Thu, 07/12/2018 - 03:54 Permalink

Tariffs are just a sneaky way to raise tax revenue from US citizens. These tariffs go to the Government. The increased wholesale prices are passed onto consumers.

It must be time for another Corporate Tax Reduction which will be paid for by tariff revenue. The Corporations will once again buy back stock and the Boards of Directors stock options become more valuable. Once again a grand scheme to pull $$ from the Middle Class and deposit it into the pockets of the Corporate Elites who already lined their pockets and caused the trade imbalance by offshoring middle class jobs for decades.

The trade war tariffs are the last bullet in their gun. Now watch them abandon ship as the economy crashes with little hope of recovery.

So buy gold bichez before they run up the price by converting their fiat$ to a proven tangible store of value. We are in the middle of the final chapter of this book.

Ben Sequestered Thu, 07/12/2018 - 04:31 Permalink

In the produce section in a small grocery store in upstate NY, I saw a huge bin of fresh garlic with a note stating "Product of China". This area grows more garlic than most of the planet could use..but we need to import it from fucking China!? 

roark183 Thu, 07/12/2018 - 04:35 Permalink

It would be more interesting to plot imports & exports against each country's Gross National Product (GNP).  Then we could see the comparative value of the imports & exports to each country.

I notice that Russia is much further down the list on both imports and exports, despite their oil & gas exports.  I wonder why.  It might be explained if the imports & exports were shown as a percentage of their GNP.

teslaberry Thu, 07/12/2018 - 15:14 Permalink

holy shit india and canada both import about a 1/6 of that imported by the u.s. -----talk about assymeteries. 35 million people and  1.325 billiion people respectively. 


the world has a lot of people in it , living very very different lives.