2020 marked a further improvement in the EU’s leading position among the world’s largest exporters of agri-food products. With regard to imports, according to a report published today, EU is now the third largest importer after the United States and China.
2020 was a particularly challenging but favourable year for EU’s agri-food trade, which reached a total value of 306 billion euros: 184 billion euros in exports and 122 billion euros in imports. Compared to 2019, both values show a slight growth of 1,4 % and 0,5 % respectively.
International trade has played a crucial role in cushioning the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and has proven to be a central tool to strengthen resilience. The EU is the largest trading bloc and an extensive network of free trade agreements (FTA) is at the basis of its position in world trade.
EU exports a wide range of products from each of the parts that compose the value chain, which demonstrates the competitiveness of the EU agri-food sector in a range of product categories, from basic products to highly-processed food industry products. EU imports, on the other hand, are clearly dominated by basic agricultural food and feed, which account for around 75 % of the total.
Looking at the product categories, exports of pig meat and wheat have contributed significantly to the overall increase in the EU agri-food exports. With regards to the EU agri-food imports, the growth was mainly driven by the increase in the value of imports of oilseeds, fatty acids, waxes, palm oil, fruit and soya beans.
China, Switzerland and the regions of the Middle East and North Africa were the main growth destinations for the EU agri-food exports in 2020. The value of the EU exports fell most sharply towards the United States, Turkey, Singapore and Japan. In terms of imports, Canada has grown significantly as a source of the EU imports. At the same time, the EU imports decreased more in value from the UK, Ukraine and the USA.
In 2020, the United Kingdom was EU’s most important partner in the agri-food trade, accounting for 23 % of total of EU agri-food exports and 13 % of total imports.