Special Report

The Most Import-Dependent Economy in the World

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15. American Samoa
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 91.82%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $0.65 billion – #13 lowest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 151.90% – #19 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 60.08% – #32 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $0.43 billion – #18 lowest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $0.71 billion – #7 lowest of 190 countries

This South Pacific unincorporated territory of the United States, with a population of about 55,000, has a small trading profile. In 2019, its exports (led by fish oil, scrap iron, and auto parts) were valued at only $26.3 million, while its imports (led by refined petroleum, processed fish products, and vehicles) were worth $176 million.

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14. Timor-Leste
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 94.22%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $1.79 billion – #29 lowest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 162.96% – #13 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 68.74% – #22 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $1.31 billion – #32 lowest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $1.90 billion – #22 lowest of 190 countries

The Southeast Asian island country, which became the first sovereign state of the 21st century in 2002, has been tapping its natural resources, led by oil and gas, as a source of export revenue. It maintains close trade ties with China, South Korea, Singapore, India, Japan, and its former parent country, Indonesia, from which it imports goods needed to build infrastructure. The country’s top import is refined petroleum.

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13. Seychelles
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 100.48%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $1.06 billion – #21 lowest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 175.10% – #9 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 74.62% – #17 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $0.79 billion – #24 lowest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $1.06 billion – #10 lowest of 190 countries

The archipelagic country with a population of about 98,000 recently hosted a massive U.S. military training operation by naval forces in the Indian Ocean, a sign of Seychelles’ strategic location. Its top exports include refined petroleum, processed seafood, and recreational boats, similar to its leading imports. Its leading export markets are the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. The country’s imports are equal to its GDP.

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12. Virgin Islands (U.S.)
> Imports as % of GDP, 2019: 101.08%
> Imports in current US$, 2019: $4.11 billion – #51 lowest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2019: 155.24% – #16 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2019: 54.15% – #43 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2019: $2.20 billion – #45 lowest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2019: $4.07 billion – #34 lowest of 190 countries

Like other Caribbean countries and territories, the economy of the U.S. Virgin Islands (with a population of about 106,000) relies heavily on tourism and has relatively small export/import activity, though its imports are greater than its GDP. Top exports, which comprise 54% of GDP, include light petroleum distillates, engine parts, motorboats, and jewelry. Top imports include petroleum products.

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11. Vietnam
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 102.70%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $278.49 billion – #22 largest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 208.25% – #8 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 105.55% – #8 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $286.21 billion – #23 largest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $271.16 billion – #41 largest of 190 countries

In an effort to reduce its heavy dependence on trade with China, Vietnam has in recent years aggressively pursued free trade agreements with the European Union and other countries in Asia. Vietnam has also become an alternative to China as a manufacturing base, notably in textiles, footwear, and electronics. While the country imports over 100% of its GDP, it exports about the same amount.

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