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:
|Rank||Country||Exports (2018, $M)||Share of Global Total|
|#2||🇺🇸 United States||$1,664,085||8.6%|
|#6||🇰🇷 Korea, Rep.||$604,860||3.1%|
|#8||🇭🇰 Hong Kong, China||$569,241||2.9%|
|#10||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||$485,711||2.5%|
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 — 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:
|🇨🇳 China (Exports)||Share||🇺🇸 U.S. (Exports)||Share|
|Chemical Products||4.9%||Mineral Products||11.4%|
|Plastics and Rubbers||4.0%||Instruments||6.8%|
|Instruments||3.2%||Plastics and Rubbers||5.5%|
|Footwear and Headwear||2.6%||Metals||4.8%|
|Stone and Glass||1.7%||Foodstuffs||3.3%|
|Mineral Products||1.3%||Precious Metals||3.1%|
|Animal Hides||1.2%||Animal Products||2.2%|
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.
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?
Ranked: World Diamond Mining By Country, Carat, and Value
Only 22 countries in the world engage in rough diamond production—also known as uncut, raw or natural diamonds—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 world’s largest rough diamond producer, mining close to 42 million carats in 2022, well ahead of its peers.
Russia’s large lead over second-place Botswana (24.8 million carats) and third-ranked Canada (16.2 million carats) indicates that the country’s diamond production is circumventing sanctions due to the difficulties in tracing a diamond’s origin.
Here’s a quick breakdown of rough diamond production in the world.
|5||🇿🇦 South Africa||9,660,233|
|10||🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||688,970|
|18||🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire||3,904|
|19||🇨🇬 Republic of Congo||3,534|
Note: South Africa’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 doesn’t necessarily mean better value for the diamond. Other factors like the cut, color, and clarity also influence a diamond’s value.
Here’s a quick breakdown of diamond production by value (USD) in 2022.
|5||🇿🇦 South Africa||$1,538M|
|9||🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||$143M|
|19||🇨🇬 Republic of Congo||$0.20M|
|20||🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire||$0.16M|
Note: South Africa’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.
|Rank||Region||Share of Rough|
Diamond Production (%)
|Share of Rough
Diamond Value (%)
However diamond mining in Africa is a relatively recent phenomenon, fewer than 200 years old. Diamonds had been discovered—and prized—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 1889–1959, Africa produced 98% of the world’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.
Markets2 weeks ago
Ranked: The Highest Paid CEOs in the S&P 500
Business3 weeks ago
Visualizing the Number of Costco Stores, by Country
Markets1 week ago
Charted: Market Volatility at its Lowest Point Since 2020
Culture3 weeks ago
Ranked: Which Countries Drink the Most Beer?
Wealth1 week ago
Mapped: The Migration of the World’s Millionaires in 2023
Maps3 weeks ago
Mapped: The Deadliest Earthquakes of the 21st Century
Countries1 week ago
Charted: The World’s Biggest Oil Producers
Energy3 weeks ago
What Electricity Sources Power the World?