Visualizing The World’s Largest Importers In 2017

For most world leaders and corporate executives, the swing of the global pendulum to more protectionist policies has been an unpleasant surprise.

That’s because the consensus view from both economists and economic historians has been that measures like the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which triggered a trade war during the Great Depression, greatly exacerbated circumstances that were already quite dire.

It’s common for tariff increases to be countered by retaliatory measures, and this can often translate to lower levels of international trade and decreased economic growth across the board. During the period of 1929 to 1934, according to the U.S. State Department, world trade decreased by 66% – largely a result of subsequent trade wars after the passing of Smoot-Hawley.

For the above reasons, international barriers to trade have been falling for decades – until now, of course.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Visualizing the World's Largest Importers in 2017


Which countries can throw their weight around the most with tariffs and retaliatory measures?

It’s those that import the most goods – and today’s infographic from shows the world’s largest importers in 2017, according to recently released data from the World Trade Organization.

Here are the top 15 largest importers, globally:

Rank Country Imports ($B) % of Global Imports
#1 USA $2,409 billion 13.4%
#2 China $1,842 billion 10.2%
#3 Germany $1,167 billion 6.5%
#4 Japan $672 billion 3.7%
#5 United Kingdom $644 billion 3.6%
#6 France $625 billion 3.5%
#7 Hong Kong (China) $590 billion 3.3%
#8 Netherlands $574 billion 3.2%
#9 South Korea $478 billion 2.7%
#10 Italy $453 billion 2.5%
#11 India $447 billion 2.5%
#12 Canada $442 billion 2.5%
#13 Mexico $432 billion 2.4%
#14 Belgium $403 billion 2.2%
#15 Spain $351 billion 1.9%
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