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Agriculture and rural development
News article11 December 2020Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development2 min read

EU agri-food trade maintains solid growth during January-August 2020

During the first eight months of 2020, EU27 exports reached a value of €119 billion (an increase of 1.2% compared to January-August 2019), while imports attained a value of €81.6 billion (an increase of 0.8%). As a result, the agri-food trade surplus stood at €37.4 billion, an increase of 2% compared to the corresponding period in 2019. Although exports of pig meat, wheat and coarse grains performed strongly during this period, exports of wine and spirit drinks struggled. In terms of trading partners, China continued to grow as an important source for EU exports. These are amongst the main developments presented in the monthly trade report for January-August 2020, published today by the European Commission.

The value of EU agri-food exports to China grew by €2.77 billion, prompted by strong sales of EU pig meat, wheat, offal meat, infant food, and barley. In Saudi Arabia, a €537 million rise in the value of EU agri-food exports was largely propelled by sales of barley and dairy products. Cereals (principally wheat) and various dairy products also performed strongly in Morocco and Algeria, where the agri-food export values rose by €383 million and €345 million respectively. EU agri-food exports also grew in Switzerland (up by €416 million) and Ukraine (up €299 million).

The value of imports from the UK declined by €1.03 billion. This decline affected the majority of agri-food products, most notably spirits and liqueurs. Meanwhile, the value of EU exports to the UK dropped by €329 million, with wine, poultry meat, and butter amongst the main product categories affected. Increases, however, were recorded in the export values of pasta and pastry, oilcakes, and wheat.

The value of EU exports to the USA fell by €692 million, with spirits and wine the main products affected, while the value of imports from the USA dropped by €606 million, as the EU reduced its intake of US soya beans and oilcakes. Declines were also recorded in the value of exports to Hong Kong (down by €326 million) and Singapore (down €315 million).  

The value of agri-food imports from Brazil grew by €623 million during this period, driven by an increase in the EU’s intake of Brazilian soya beans. A rise in import values was also recorded in relation to Indonesia (a growth of €592 million, led by palm oil), Canada (€590 million, led by rapeseeds, wheat, and soya beans) and Turkey (€446 million, led by nuts and citrus fruits). However, falls were recorded in relation to imports from Ukraine (down by €711 million) and India (down €258 million).

As regards product categories, the export values of EU pig meat and wheat experienced remarkable growths, rising by €1.98 billion and €1.45 billion respectively. The export value of coarse grains also increased (by €390 million), as a result of growing demand in the European Neighbourhood region, Africa, and China.

Conversely, alcoholic drinks produced in the EU experienced a difficult period. During the first eight months of 2020, the export value of EU spirits and liqueurs fell by €1.3 billion, while the value of wine dropped by €1.27 billion. Other product categories whose export values declined during this period were raw hides and skins (a fall of €640 million), cotton (a drop of €311 million), as well as chocolate and confectionary (a decrease of €268 million).

In terms of imports, falls were recorded in relation to coarse grains (a drop of €922 million), oilcakes (down by €464 million), and spirits and liqueurs (down €409 million), while there were increases for fresh and dried tropical fruit (up by €707 million), palm and palm kernel oil (up €564 million), and fatty acids and waxes (a growth of €504 million).

Monitoring EU agri-food trade: developments until August 202

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11 DECEMBER 2020
Monitoring EU agri-food trade: developments until August 2020

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Trade and international policy analysis

Previous monthly data on EU agri-food imports and exports.


Publication date
11 December 2020
Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development