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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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Mining

Ranked: The World’s Top Diamond Mining Countries, by Carats and Value

Who are the leaders in rough diamond production and how much is their diamond output worth?

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A cropped chart showing the leaders in rough diamond mining and how much their diamond output is worth.

Ranked: World Diamond Mining By Country, Carat, and Value

Only 22 countries in the world engage in rough diamond productionโ€”also known as uncut, raw or natural diamondsโ€”mining for them from deposits within their territories.

This chart, by Sam Parker illustrates the leaders in rough diamond production by weight and value. It uses data from Kimberly Process (an international certification organization) along with estimates by Dr. Ashok Damarupurshad, a precious metals and diamond specialist in South Africa.

Rough Diamond Production, By Weight

Russia takes the top spot as the worldโ€™s largest rough diamond producer, mining close to 42 million carats in 2022, well ahead of its peers.

โ„น๏ธ Carat is the unit of measurement for the physical weight of diamonds. One carat equals 0.200 grams, which means it takes over 2,265 carats to equal 1 pound.

Russiaโ€™s large lead over second-place Botswana (24.8 million carats) and third-ranked Canada (16.2 million carats) indicates that the countryโ€™s diamond production is circumventing sanctions due to the difficulties in tracing a diamondโ€™s origin.

Hereโ€™s a quick breakdown of rough diamond production in the world.

RankCountryRough Diamond
Production (Carats)
1๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia41,923,910
2๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ผ Botswana24,752,967
3๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada16,249,218
4๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฉ DRC9,908,998
5๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ South Africa9,660,233
6๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ด Angola8,763,309
7๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ผ Zimbabwe4,461,450
8๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Namibia2,054,227
9๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ธ Lesotho727,737
10๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Sierra Leone688,970
11๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฟ Tanzania375,533
12๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil158,420
13๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ณ Guinea128,771
14๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ซ Central
African Republic
118,044
15๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡พ Guyana83,382
16๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ญ Ghana82,500
17๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ท Liberia52,165
18๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Cote D'Ivoire3,904
19๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Republic of Congo3,534
20๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Cameroon2,431
21๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ช Venezuela1,665
22๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Mali92
Total120,201,460

Note: South Africaโ€™s figures are estimated.

As with most other resources, (oil, gold, uranium), rough diamond production is distributed unequally. The top 10 rough diamond producing countries by weight account for 99.2% of all rough diamonds mined in 2022.

Diamond Mining, by Country

However, higher carat mined doesnโ€™t necessarily mean better value for the diamond. Other factors like the cut, color, and clarity also influence a diamondโ€™s value.

Hereโ€™s a quick breakdown of diamond production by value (USD) in 2022.

RankCountryRough Diamond
Value (USD)
1๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ผ Botswana$4,975M
2๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia$3,553M
3๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ด Angola$1,965M
4๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada$1,877M
5๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ South Africa$1,538M
6๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Namibia$1,234M
7๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ผ Zimbabwe$424M
8๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ธ Lesotho$314M
9๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Sierra Leone$143M
10๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฟ Tanzania$110M
11๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฉ DRC$65M
12๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil$30M
13๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ท Liberia$18M
14๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ซ Central
African Republic
$15M
15๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡พ Guyana$14M
16๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ณ Guinea$6M
17๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ญ Ghana$3M
18๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Cameroon$0.25M
19๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Republic of Congo$0.20M
20๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Cote D'Ivoire$0.16M
21๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ช Venezuela$0.10M
22๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Mali$0.06M
Total$16,290M

Note: South Africaโ€™s figures are estimated. Furthermore, numbers have been rounded and may not sum to the total.

Thus, even though Botswana only produced 59% of Russia’s diamond weight in 2022, it had a trade value of nearly $5 billion, approximately 1.5 times higher than Russia’s for the same year.

Another example is Angola, which is ranked 6th in diamond production, but 3rd in diamond value.

Both countries (as well as South Africa, Canada, and Namibia) produce gem-quality rough diamonds versus countries like Russia and the DRC whose diamonds are produced mainly for industrial use.

Which Regions Produce the Most Diamonds in 2022?

Unsurprisingly, Africa is the largest rough diamond producing region, accounting for 51% of output by weight, and 66% by value.

RankRegionShare of Rough
Diamond Production (%)
Share of Rough
Diamond Value (%)
1Africa51.4%66.4%
2Europe34.9%32.9%
3North America13.5%52.8%
4South America0.2%2.4%

However diamond mining in Africa is a relatively recent phenomenon, fewer than 200 years old. Diamonds had been discoveredโ€”and prizedโ€”as far back as 2,000 years ago in India, later on spreading west to Egyptian pharaohs and the Roman Empire.

By the start of the 20th century, diamond production on a large scale took off: first in South Africa, and decades later in other African countries. In fact between 1889โ€“1959, Africa produced 98% of the worldโ€™s diamonds.

And in the latter half of the 20th century, the term blood diamond evolved from diamonds mined in African conflict zones used to finance insurgency or crime.

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