Special Report

The Most Import-Dependent Economy in the World

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20. Cyprus
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 78.56%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $19.34 billion – #80 largest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 154.58% – #17 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 76.03% – #16 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $18.71 billion – #81 largest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $24.61 billion – #85 lowest of 190 countries

The top industries for one of the European Union’s smallest member states include tourism, food and beverage processing, cement and gypsum production, and ship maintenance. Cyprus and Israel have been mired in a years-long dispute over gas drilling rights in the Mediterranean Sea. The island depends on fuel imports among others.

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19. Belgium
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 78.61%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $410.22 billion – #15 largest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 158.62% – #14 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 80.01% – #11 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $417.56 billion – #17 largest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $521.86 billion – #23 largest of 190 countries

Benefitting from its proximity to Germany, EU’s largest economy, Belgium is known for its production of engineering products, scientific instruments, transportation equipment, and auto parts. Most of Belgium’s trade is with other EU member states but it also has a sizable trade relationship with Russia that could be adversely impacted by tensions between Moscow and Ukraine and its allies.

18. Nauru
> Imports as % of GDP, 2019: 78.92%
> Imports in current US$, 2019: $0.09 billion – #2 lowest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2019: 98.80% – #54 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2019: 19.88% – #46 lowest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2019: $0.02 billion – #2 lowest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $0.11 billion – #1 lowest of 190 countries

This struggling Oceania microstate with a population of only about 11,000 residents has traditionally relied economically on phosphate mining. However, after that industry was depleted in recent years, Nauru has pivoted its dependence to the sale of fishing rights, offshoring business activities, and Australian financial support, in part for maintaining a controversial immigration detention and processing center. Nauru’s top import is refined petroleum.

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17. Slovak Republic
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 84.51%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $88.88 billion – #42 largest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 169.95% – #11 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 85.44% – #10 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $89.86 billion – #42 largest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $105.17 billion – #62 largest of 190 countries

Slovakia’s top exports include automobiles and auto parts and video and broadcasting equipment, while leading imports include automobiles and auto parts and crude oil and gas. Its top export or import markets are Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, France and Russia.

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16. Kiribati
> Imports as % of GDP, 2018: 87.25%
> Imports in current US$, 2018: $0.17 billion – #4 lowest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2018: 96.71% – #57 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2018: 9.47% – #12 lowest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2018: $0.02 billion – #1 lowest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $0.20 billion – #2 lowest of 190 countries

This independent island nation in Oceania with a population of about 120,000 used to rely heavily on phosphate mining and export. After that resource was largely depleted, the small republic shifted relance to exporting coconut oil and fish, while its primary imports are refined petroleum, oil, rice, vehicles, and machinery.

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