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Mapped: The World’s Largest Exporters in 2018

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The World's Largest Exporters in 2018

Visualizing the World’s Largest Exporters in 2018

Trillions of dollars of goods get traded around the world every year.

In 2018, total global exports exceeded $19 trillion, including specialized goods falling into almost every possible category imaginable.

Whether you’re talking about German cars, Bangladeshi t-shirts, Saudi oil, or Swiss milk chocolate, just about anything is available on the world market for a price – and the world’s largest exporting countries aim to take advantage.

Ranked: The 15 Largest Exporters in 2018

Today’s visualization comes to us from HowMuch.net, and it resizes countries based on their most recent export numbers, as per data from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Let’s take a look at how the field breaks down:

RankCountryExports (2018, $M)Share of Global Total
#1๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China$2,487,04512.8%
#2๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States$1,664,0858.6%
#3๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany$1,560,8168.0%
#4๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan$738,4033.8%
#5๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands$722,6683.7%
#6๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท Korea, Rep.$604,8603.1%
#7๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France$581,8163.0%
#8๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong, China$569,2412.9%
#9๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy$546,6432.8%
#10๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom$485,7112.5%
#11๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium$466,7242.4%
#12๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico$450,5722.3%
#13๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada$449,8452.3%
#14๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia$444,0082.3%
#15๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore$412,6292.1%

Leading the list of the world’s largest exporters is China, with a whopping $2.5 trillion of goods sent abroad in 2018. If you add in Hong Kong’s numbers, China holds 15.7% of the global export total โ€” roughly equal to Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, France, and Singapore combined.

Coming next on the list is the U.S., which exports about $1.7 trillion of goods each year. After that comes Germany, which is the only other country to export over $1 trillion of goods per year.

Comparing U.S. and Chinese Exports

What does China export, and how does that compare to a more developed economy such as the United States?

Using data from MIT’s Observatory of Economic Complexity, we can see the broad breakdown of exports in both countries:

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China (Exports)Share๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S. (Exports)Share
Machines48.5%Machines22.1%
Textiles9.9%Transportation14.9%
Metals7.1%Chemical Products13.7%
Chemical Products4.9%Mineral Products11.4%
Plastics and Rubbers4.0%Instruments6.8%
Instruments3.2%Plastics and Rubbers5.5%
Transportation3.2%Vegetable Products5.1%
Footwear and Headwear2.6%Metals4.8%
Stone and Glass1.7%Foodstuffs3.3%
Mineral Products1.3%Precious Metals3.1%
Animal Hides1.2%Animal Products2.2%
Other/Misc12.4%Paper Goods2.1%
Textiles1.7%
Other/Misc3.3%

On first glance, it’s clear that China’s exports are reliant on one heavy-hitting category (Machines) to drive a whopping 48.5% of total export value. Within that broad category of machines, there are many narrower categories, including:

  • Broadcasting equipment (9.6% of total exports)
  • Computers (6.1%)
  • Office machine parts (3.8%)
  • Integrated circuits (3.3%)
  • Telephones (2.6%)
  • Electrical transformers (1.3%)
  • Semiconductor devices (1.2%)
  • Video displays (1.1%)

For the United States, machines are still important at 22.1% of exports, but three other broad categories also surpass the 10% mark: transportation, chemical products, and mineral products. This means the U.S. is generally more diversified in its major exports.

For more, see the largest export of each state on this map.

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Which Retailers Operate in the Most Countries?

From fast-fashion giant H&M to Apple, we show the top retailers globally with the largest international presence.

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This treemap shows the top retailers operating in the most countries in 2023.

The Top Retailers Operating in the Most Countries

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Today, international expansion is a key growth strategy for the worldโ€™s top retailers as companies target untapped markets with the highest potential to drive revenue and profit streams.

While traditional retailers have sought out digital strategies as the industry evolves and consumer behaviors change, physical storefronts continue to be a dominant driver of retail sales. In 2023, brick-and-mortar sales comprised 81% of retail sales globally.

This graphic shows the top retailers operating in the most markets worldwide, based on data from the National Retail Federation.

Global Retailers With the Largest International Footprint

Here are the global retailers with the widest-reaching presence around the world in 2023:

RankingRetailerNumber of Countries of First-Party OperationHeadquarters
1H&M68๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden
2IKEA51๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands
3Inditex45๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain
4Decathlon34๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France
5Carrefour32๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France
6Sephora (LVMH)31๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France
7Schwarz Group30๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany
8Fast Retailing27๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan
9Euronics International25๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands
10Apple25๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.

Notably, eight of the top 10 companies with the widest market reach hail from Europe.

Fast-fashion giant H&M ranks first overall, with 4,454 stores across 68 countries last year. In 2023, the Swedish company earned $21.6 billion in revenues, with its largest markets by number of store locations being the U.S., Germany, and the UK. This year, it plans to open 100 new stores in growth markets, along with shutting down 160 stores in established locations, ultimately decreasing its global store count.

In second is IKEA, with a presence in 51 countries. Last year, the company expanded its footprint in India, launching its first store in the tech hub, Hyderabad. While the company has a broad international reach, its number of storefronts is a fraction of H&M, at 477 total stores worldwide.

Looking beyond the continent, Japanโ€™s Fast Retailing is the top retailer in Asia, operating in 27 countries globally. As the parent company to fashion brand Uniqlo, it also stands as the seventh most valuable listed firm by market capitalization in the country.

Additionally, Apple is the sole American company to make this list, with storefronts in 25 countries. Overall, the company operates four types of retail stores: regular, AppleStore+, flagships, and flagship+. Regular stores often earn $40 million annually, while flagship+ stores typically earn more than $100 million.

By 2027, the company plans to build or remodel 53 stores globally, with the majority located in the U.S. and China.

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