World’s Top 10 Merchandise Trade Countries

Okay, this is the last data chart  — at least for a while —- from the Bureau of Transportation Statistic’s report on America’s Container Ports: Linking Markets at Home and Abroad.   So, is it obvious yet, that I find this sort of data interesting?

Container ship passing the city of San Francisco on a rainy day in late March, 2012. Photo:


The U.S., China, Germany and Japan lead the pack respectively, and 10th is Belgium…hmmm, Belgium?  Section report notes:

  • Looking ahead, the volume of containers that U.S. seaports will handle in the coming years will be determined mainly by how much the United States continues to rely on imported manufactured goods, which countries it trades with the most, and which products it imports rather than produces domestically.
  •  Globally, the United States ranked second in container traffic in 2009, a position it has held since China took over the lead position in 1998.
  • Nonetheless, the United States remains the world’s leading trading nation, accounting for 11 percent of total world merchandise trade in 2009 (figure 5 above).
  • U.S. total imports ranked first, account­ing for over 13 percent of global imports in 2009. With 9 percent of total global exports, however, the United States lags both China, the new leading world exporter, and Germany (WTO 2010). 
  • n 2009, China became the top world exporter, with 10 percent of the value of traded merchandise. Overall, though, the United States remained the world’s largest economy, accounting for 24 percent of world GDP in 2009 (see table below).

 Notes for above table

  • (a) World 2009 GDP is an estimate that includes projections by the International Monetary Fund for some countries.
  • KEY: TEU = twenty-foot equivalent unit. One 20-foot container equals one TEU, and one 40-foot container equals two TEUs.
  • SOURCES: TEUs, world estimates, 1995–1999: Containerisation International Yearbook (London: Informa Group, Inc., 1997–2001); 2000–2009: U.S. Department of Transportation,Maritime Administration, based on Containerisation International Online,, as of Oct. 5, 2010. TEUs, U.S. estimates, 1995–2009: American Association of Port Authorities, Industry Statistics; 1995–2009,, as of Sept. 16, 2010.
  • GDP: World estimates from International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database,, as of Sept. 16, 2010; U.S. estimates from U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis,, as of Sept. 16, 2010.

Here is a link to the full 52 page report from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (

Now that you are here, I would love to know what you think...comments are always appreciated.