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Countries with the biggest trade deficits

  • Countries with the biggest trade deficits

    During his first Inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson said, “It is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government... Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”

    One of the most important forms of international relations is trade, which can serve as a conduit for cultural and political understanding between nations while easing tensions. While many foreigners may be unaware of American politics or norms, most are familiar with American brands such as Levi's, Kellogg's, Ford, Microsoft, Facebook, and Disney.

    Current headlines about a potential trade war between the U.S. and China has many examining the trade deficits of the U.S. and other countries around the world. While trade deficits could reflect political decisions to foster foreign assistance through international trade (as in the case of the U.S.), a trade deficit typically reflects a weak or declining economy.

    Stacker has looked at global import and export data from the CIA and the World Bank for all 195 nations and calculated the 50 countries with the largest trade deficit as measured by the sum of their global merchandise and service exports minus the sum of their global merchandise and service imports. The data are accurate as of 2017 and countries are ranked from the lowest to the highest trade deficit.

    While China, Germany, and Japan currently have the largest trade surpluses, this does not present a complete picture since countries prioritize spending and selling differently. As of 2017, the U.S, China, Germany, the U.K., and France were the biggest importers while China, the U.S., Germany, Japan, and France were the biggest exporters.

    Read on to learn which nation has a trade deficit larger than the next 37 nations combined.

    You might also like: Ranking the biggest trade partners of the U.S.

  • #50. Macedonia

    - Trade deficit: $1.6 billion
    - Exports: $6.2 billion
    - Imports: $7.8 billion

    Macedonia's major trade partners include Germany, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Belgium, and the U.K. The country counts its top imports as platinum, petroleum, and ceramics, while exports are highest for supported catalysts, filtering or purifying machinery, and ignition wiring sets.

  • #49. Tajikistan

    - Trade deficit: $1.6 billion
    - Exports: $1.1 billion
    - Imports: $2.8 billion

    The world's 148th largest export economy counts its major trade partners as Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Switzerland. The country's largest imports are alumina (for manufacturing aluminum), grain and flour, consumer and capital goods, and energy in the form of petroleum and petroleum products, electricity, and natural gas.

  • #48. Ghana

    - Trade deficit: $1.7 billion
    - Exports: $20.4 billion
    - Imports: $22.1 billion

    Ghana is Africa's second-largest producer of gold, which is also the country's top export along with petroleum and cocoa beans. The country counts India, China, U.S., Switzerland, South Africa, and the U.K. as its main trade partners. Chief imports include cement clinkers, automobiles, and spelt (a grain that closely resembles wheat).

  • #47. Georgia

    - Trade deficit: $1.8 billion
    - Exports: $7.6 billion
    - Imports: $9.3 billion

    Georgia's top trade partners are Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, China, and Armenia. The country relies on imports for its petroleum, as Georgia is without any of its own proved petroleum reserves or crude oil production. Georgia's other top imports are natural gas and copper ore, while its main exports are copper, ferro-silico manganese, and wine. The country stands as one of the world's oldest-known wine regions, with evidence of wine production there dating back to around 8,000 years ago.

  • #46. Mauritius

    - Trade deficit: $1.8 billion
    - Exports: $5.4 billion
    - Imports: $7.2 billion

    Mauritius, a member of the WTO seeking to create a globally competitive economy, boasts no trade barriers and low customs duties. The country's top exports are prepared or preserved tuna, cane or beet sugar, and men's or boy's shirts; while Mauritius' chief imports are petroleum, frozen fish, and medicaments of mixed or unmixed products. Its major trade partners are France, China, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and South Africa.

  • #45. Zimbabwe

    - Trade deficit: $1.8 billion
    - Exports: $4.7 billion
    - Imports: $6.6 billion

    Zimbabwe is Africa's largest tobacco grower, and the world's sixth-largest grower. The tobacco coming from this country (mainly Virginia flue-cured, burley, and oriental varieties) is celebrated for its flavor and was a staple crop for the former country of Rhodesia, which is geographically where Zimbabwe now sits. Zimbabwe's other top exports are gold and nickel ore; the country's biggest imports are petroleum, maize, and electricity. Major trade partners for Zimbabwe are South Africa, Mozambique, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and China.

  • #44. Kosovo

    - Trade deficit: $1.9 billion
    - Exports: $2.0 billion
    - Imports: $3.8 billion

    Considered a "transition economy," Kosovo's exports dropped in January 2019 in line with a drop in sales for crude materials, inedible, except fuelds and for manufactured goods. The country largely imports appliances and electric materials, prepared food, beverages and tobacco, mineral products, machinery, metals, and chemical products. 

  • #43. Nicaragua

    - Trade deficit: $2 billion
    - Exports: $5.7 billion
    - Imports: $7.7 billion

    Nicaragua's major trade partners include the U.S., Mexico, China, El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica. The country's top exports are coffee, T-shirts, and ignition wiring sets. Imports include petroleum, medicaments of mixed or unmixed products, and crocheted or weft knit fabrics.

  • #42. Albania

    - Trade deficit: $2 billion
    - Exports: $4.1 billion
    - Imports: $6.1 billion

    Albania's top exports include uppers, chromium, and men's and boys' trousers, while importing a large amount of its electricity, automobiles, and petroleum. Albania's major trade partners are Italy, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Germany, however imports in the last year from Italy, Greece, and Turkey all dropped.

  • #41. Uganda

    - Trade deficit: $2.1 billion
    - Exports: $5.0 billion
    - Imports: $7.1 billion

    It's no wonder coffee is among Uganda's top three exports: Coffee production accounts for upwards of 30% of the country's annual foreign exchange earnings. Uganda's other two top exports are gold and petroleum, while the country is a large importer of petroleum, medicaments of mixed or unmixed products, and crude palm oil. Major trade partners for the landlocked country are Kenya, China, the United Arab Emirates, India, South Sudan, Congo, and Rwanda.

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