Did you know that just 6 nations among the 100 leading import countries increased their officially reported import purchases from 2019 to 2020?
Three of the gainers are in Asia, with two in Europe and the other an emerging colossus in Africa.
To give some context to these findings, worldwide buying of imported products totaled US$17.551 trillion for 2021. That dollar amount reflects a -8% drop from $19.1 trillion one year earlier.
Among the 100 biggest import destinations, a half-dozen importers eluded the pervasive downward trend in import purchasing from 2019 to 2020. The trend breakers were Nigeria (up 11.9%), Switzerland (up 5%), Turkey (up 4.4%), Poland (up 3.2%), Vietnam (up 3.1%) and Taiwan (up 0.4%).
As measured in US dollars, those 6 growing markets accounted for 7.8% of globally imported goods in 2020.
Presented below is an analysis of the top 10 products that generated higher international sales from 2020 to 2021 in each of the 6 expanding import markets.
Nigeria’s Fastest-Growing Imports
The following diversified set of products led the 100 most valuable imports into Nigeria, winning a spot among the top 10 fastest total sales increases from 2019 to 2020.
- Fertilizer mixes: Up 540.3% from 2019 to 2020 (US$130.2 million)
- Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes: Up 480.2% ($107.2 million)
- Sawn wood sheets including veneer: Up 451.1% ($169.2 million)
- Miscellaneous military weapons: Up 438.7% ($142 million)
- High-voltage switches, fuses: Up 340.9% ($122.1 million)
- Potato flour, powder, flakes, pellets: Up 289.5% ($109.2 million)
- Measuring or checking machinery: Up 239.6% ($291.4 million)
- Machine-tools for metal work: Up 221.4% ($178.6 million)
- Diagnostic or laboratory reagents: Up 220.8% ($162.3 million)
- Fresh whole fish: Up 190.4% ($300.4 million)
All above imported products posted robust triple-digit gains for Nigeria’s annual import purchases.
Switzerland’s Fastest-Growing Imports
Precious metals and medical goods dominated the top 10 fastest-growing import purchases for Switzerland.
- Miscellaneous clothing items, dress patterns: Up 466.8% from 2019 to 2020 (US$1.1 billion)
- Platinum: Up 63.3% ($3.1 billion)
- Silver: Up 49.8% ($641.2 million)
- Gold: Up 44.9% ($87.9 million)
- Miscellaneous heterocyclics: Up 36.1% ($817.8 million)
- Miscellaneous diagnostic or lab reagents: Up 32.5% ($601.8 million)
- Motorcycles: Up 31.9% ($716.4 million)
- Blood fractions including antisera: Up 24.7% ($12.4 billion)
- Medication mixes in dosage: Up 23% ($25.9 billion)
- TV receivers, monitors, projectors: Up 16.2% ($827.7 million)
Only an apparel category posted a triple-digit gain.
Turkey’s Fastest-Growing Imports
Imported vehicles are the sales leader for fastest-growing imported products for Turkey, a vast transcontinental country spanning Western Asia to a smaller portion in Southeast Europe.
- Tractors: Up 184.4% from 2019 to 2020 (US$532.7 million)
- Silver: Up 140.9% ($459.9 million)
- Cars: Up 124.2% ($7.9 billion)
- Gold: Up 123.5% ($25.2 billion)
- Electric generating sets, converters: Up 66% ($986.7 million)
- Trucks: Up 65.9% ($886.9 million)
- Sunflower, safflower or cotton-seed oil: Up 61.7% ($708.6 million)
- Computers, optical readers: Up 44.4% ($2.4 billion)
- Dried shelled vegetables: Up 42.4% ($553.4 million)
- Heterocyclics, nucleic acids: Up 40.4% ($750.3 million)
Besides vehicles, Turkey’s fastest-growing imported goods largely sold directly to consumers are sunflower, safflower or cotton-seed oil, dried shelled vegetables and computers.
Poland’s Fastest-Growing Imports
A diverse range of intermediate goods used to create final products attracted higher sales from importers in Poland. The one notable exception is the screws, bolts, nuts and washers made from iron or steel albeit those products are also used as intermediate goods used to manufacture consumer-ready offerings.
- Miscellaneous chemical products: Up 778.2% from 2019 to 2020 (US$807.3 million)
- Centrifuges, filters, purifiers: Up 245.6% ($1.6 billion)
- Blood fractions including antisera: Up 213.7% ($2.8 billion)
- Miscellaneous clothing items, dress patterns: Up 159.1% ($738.1 million)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: Up 142.1% ($2 billion)
- Unrecorded sound media: Up 123% ($1.6 billion)
- Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers: Up 88.2% ($933.1 million)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: Up 85.7% ($1.05 billion)
- Aluminum plates, sheets, strips: Up 55.3% ($998.4 million)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: Up 53.6% ($1.02 billion)
Year over year, more than half of Poland’s fastest-growing imports generated triple-digit gains.
Vietnam’s Fastest-Growing Imports
Although known for technological exports including smartphones and electronic circuits, Vietnam’s leading growth imports are agricultural products namely sugar and natural rubber.
- Sugar: Up 469.3% from 2019 to 2020 (US$637.7 million)
- Natural rubber: Up 75.9% ($644.1 million)
- TV, radio and radar device parts: Up 53.8% ($4.6 billion)
- Base metal mountings, fittings: Up 49.6% ($535.9 million)
- Tempered or laminated safety glass: Up 49.4% ($738.1 million)
- Piston engines: Up 45.3% ($532.1 million)
- Blood fractions including antisera: Up 43.6% ($652.7 million)
- Iron ores, concentrates: Up 40.1% ($1.5 billion)
- Electrical converters/power units: Up 39.9% ($2.5 billion)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: Up 38.1% ($6.3 billion)
Among the above sales leaders, only sugar imported into Vietnam realized a triple-digit annual increase.
Taiwan’s Fastest-Growing Imports
Besides precious metals gold and silver, technological goods including computers and related equipment are among the top growth imports into Taiwan.
- Miscellaneous iron/steel structures: Up 210.6% from 2019 to 2020 (US$710.4 million)
- Electric generating sets, converters: Up 95.9% ($516.1 million)
- Table games: Up 76.7% ($402.9 million)
- Electrical machinery: Up 61.6% ($644.4 million)
- Gold (unwrought): Up 58.2% ($2 billion)
- Silver (unwrought): Up 54.8% ($524.3 million)
- Unrecorded sound media: Up 46.4% ($2.5 billion)
- Printed circuits: Up 35.1% ($2.7 billion)
- Computer parts, accessories: Up 34.6% ($5.3 billion)
- Microphones, headphones, amplifiers: Up 32.5% ($463.4 million)
The one product category to generate a triple-digit annual increase was miscellaneous iron or steel structures. Those products are used for infrastructure projects like building bridges.
Foreign Exchange Rates Impact Import Costs
If the domestic currency dropped in value per each US dollar, this may mean that increased in local spending on imported goods are understated when you focus strictly on US dollar statistics.
Four among the growth import countries experienced weakening in their national currencies exchanging to US dollars. This means that more spending using the local currency is required to buy the same amount in the stronger American currency.
- Turkish lira: Down -23.5% per US dollar
- Nigerian naira: Down -16.9%
- Polish zloty: Down -1.6%
- Vietnamese dong: Down -1%
Based on the above local currencies, national demand for imported goods can be increased by positive amounts for the negative percentages shown above. For example, Turkey’s imports when converted to Turkish liras grew by 27.9% (23.5% plus 4.4%) from 2019 to 2020.
In contrast, the Swiss franc strengthened by 5.5% against the US dollar from 2019 to 2020. Similarly, the New Taiwan dollar appreciated by 4.7%. Since it takes fewer amounts of those local currencies to convert to comparatively weaker US dollars, local demand for imported products is overstated when reporting exclusively in US dollars.
Strictly based on local currencies, Switzerland’s imports fell -0.5% (5% minus 5.5%) while Taiwan’s purchases of imported goods declined by -4.3% (0.4% minus 4.7%).
More great research: Nigeria’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products Ranked by Value, Switzerland’s 100 Most Valuable Imported Consumer Products, 100 Most Valuable Imported Consumer Goods to Sell in Turkey, Poland’s Main Imports by Top Supplier Countries, Vietnam’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, 100 Top Consumer Products for Selling to Importers in Taiwan
Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational sources.
International Monetary Fund, Domestic Currency per U.S. Dollar, Period Average
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Richest Country Reports, Top 50 Countries by GDP per Capita
World’s Top Exports, Import News.