Special Report

The Most Import-Dependent Economy in the World

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10. Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
> Imports as % of GDP, 2018: 104.24%
> Imports in current US$, 2018: $1.24 billion – #23 lowest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2018: 171.72% – #10 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2018: 67.48% – #23 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2018: $0.80 billion – #25 lowest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2018: $1.19 billion – #12 lowest of 190 countries

The Dutch constituent country in the Caribbean (which shares an island with the French side) has been hit hard in recent years by two hurricanes and the coronavirus pandemic that shut down its tourism sector. It relies heavily on financial support from The Netherlands and imports over 100% of its GDP, while it exports a much smaller 67%.

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9. Lesotho
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 105.38%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $1.98 billion – #31 lowest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 152.51% – #18 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 47.14% – #53 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $0.88 billion – #27 lowest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $1.88 billion – #21 lowest of 190 countries

The small mountainous landlocked country surrounded by South Africa has been adversely affected by slow global economic growth in recent years. The country imports about 105% worth of its GDP and more than twice the value of its exports, which include apparel. Main imports include refined petroleum and pharmaceutical products.

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8. Somalia
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 107.62%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $5.37 billion – #62 lowest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 124.17% – #29 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 16.55% – #29 lowest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $0.83 billion – #26 lowest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $4.99 billion – #38 lowest of 190 countries

This country on the Horn of Africa is on a fragile path of recovery from decades of internal conflict that have made its economy heavily reliant on imports coming mostly from the United Arab Emirates, China, India, and Turkey. Its primary exports, which comprise about 16% of GDP, include gold and livestock.

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7. Ireland
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 108.84%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $463.53 billion – #14 largest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 239.95% – #7 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 131.11% – #7 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $558.39 billion – #11 largest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $425.89 billion – #27 largest of 190 countries

The largest EU member state on this list is also one of the most economically dynamic on this list. The latest World Bank data shows Ireland’s exports are worth $558 billion, while its imports are valued at $463 billion, or about 109% of GDP. Top exports include vaccines and pharmaceutical products, while leading imports include aircraft and computers.

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6. Malta
> Imports as % of GDP, 2020: 130.97%
> Imports in current US$, 2020: $19.18 billion – #81 largest of 189 countries
> Trade as % of GDP, 2020: 271.55% – #6 largest of 190 countries
> Exports as % of GDP, 2020: 140.58% – #6 largest of 190 countries
> Exports in current US$, 2020: $20.59 billion – #77 largest of 189 countries
> GDP in current US$, 2020: $14.65 billion – #66 lowest of 190 countries

This tiny island country and EU member state relies heavily on the maritime industry, including shipping, storage, and bunkering. The country’s primary exports include oil and mineral fuels and pharmaceuticals, and top imports include seacraft and electrical machinery.

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