The EU confirmed its position as the world’s largest importer and exporter of agro-food goods in 2017 by reaching new heights. Exports of €138 billion combined with imports worth €117 billion, to set a new record of €255 billion. Experts believe the competitiveness of the region’s producers is down to their reputation as being safe, sustainably produced, nutritious and of high quality. Trade agreements have recently been put into place with Canada, Japan and Mexico.
The world’s five largest agri-food exporters (the EU, the US, Brazil, China, Canada) all posted higher export values in 2017, with an average increase of 4.3%. Meanwhile, agri-food imports of the world’s top five importers (the EU, the US, China, Japan, Canada) recorded an average rise of 5.3%.
EU exports were up to all of its main partners. Even exports to Russia increased for the first time since 2013 thanks to products not subject to the embargo. In terms of its imports, the EU’s sources have diversified over recent years. The most imported products in terms of value were tropical fruits, with a further rise recorded in 2017.
Despite the positive results, the future of the sector’s trade is far from certain due to the prospect of trade barriers going up and the UK’s exit from the EU. Nevertheless, with global population continuing to increase and changing consumer trends, the EU’s operators are well positioned to benefit.