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15 Biggest Import-Export Companies in the World

In this article, we discuss the 15 biggest import-export companies in the world. To skip the details about global imports and exports, go directly to the 5 Biggest Import-Export Companies in the World.

International trade is one of the driving factors of the global economy. In the recent year, global trade hit a snag in 2018 due to tensions between USA and China. However, it was on its way to recovery when the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread worldwide. 2021 saw global trade recovery due to mass vaccine roll-outs and the easing of lockdown restrictions.

China was the biggest exporter in the world in 2021 with exports worth $3.36 trillion by the end of the year. It was followed by the United States with exports worth $1.75 trillion and Germany came a close third after recording exports of over $1.6 trillion. In 2020, China accounted for 14.7% of global commodity imports and 5.7% of global services exports. 

In 2022, Bahrain is the world’s biggest importer with imports worth $1.33 trillion accounting for 57.3% of the global imports in October alone. It is followed by China with imports worth over $215 billion and then the USA with $191.278 billion worth of imports. In 2021, the United States was the biggest commodity importer in the world with imports worth $3.39 trillion. The top five countries including the USA, China, Germany, France, and Japan accounted for 40.73% of the global imports.

In the first nine months of 2022, the global oil and gas industry has been the biggest exporter in the world, followed by the healthcare and automotive industry.

COVID-19 Impact

The pandemic severely affected global trade due to lockdowns and supply chain disruptions. The most substantial drop was experienced by the world in the second quarter of 2020 after the global merchandise trade declined by 21% YoY. The third quarter was better with global trade experiencing a 5% YoY decline.

In 2021, global trade saw a significant recovery and hit a record of $28.5 trillion, representing a growth of 25% from 2020 and 13% from the 2019 levels.

By the end of 2022, global trade is expected to be lower than the 2021 levels. 

Photo by ammiel jr on Unsplash

Our Methodology

After analyzing the global trade statistics and import-export companies, we made a list of the 15 biggest import-export companies by market capitalization. Some notable names in the list include Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM), QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM), and Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (NYSE:ADM). In addition, we also listed some of the private companies in the list due to their significance in global trade and they have been listed according to their revenue generated in 2021.

Biggest Import-Export Companies in the World

15. McWane, Inc. (Private)

Revenue in 2021: $2 billion

McWane, Inc. is a privately owned manufacturer of iron water works and plumbing equipment headquartered in Alabama. The company’s products are used globally, mostly in Asia. It has close to 7000 employees and operates from 25 manufacturing locations across the globe. McWane, Inc imports a significant amount of its supplies from China and exports finished goods worldwide.

McWane, Inc. had revenues of approximately $2 billion in 2021. The company employs 6000 people, making its revenue per employee ratio $333,333.

McWane, Inc. is one of the notable import-export companies in the world, along with Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM), QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM), and Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (NYSE:ADM).

14. Koch Industries, Inc. (Private)

Revenue in 2021: $115 billion

Koch Industries, Inc. is the second largest privately held company in the United States. It is owned by the Koch family. Its products include asphalt, chemicals, commodities trading, energy, fibers, fertilizers, financial services, minerals, natural gas, plastics, petroleum, and pulp and paper. The company was America’s biggest containerized exporter of goods in 2018.

In 2021, Koch Industries, Inc.’s revenue was approximately $115 billion. The company has over 100,000 employees as of 2021.

13. Cargill Incorporated (Private)

Revenue in 2021: $134.4 billion

Cargill Incorporated is a privately held American company that is owned by the Cargill family. The company’s main businesses include the trade of agricultural products, energy and steel transport, and the production of livestock feed.

Cargill Incorporated’s business model depends highly on imports and exports. The company imports a huge range of products from Argentina and imports palm oil and palm oil products from Malaysia and Indonesia into Pakistan. The company also buys raw cotton from Pakistan and sends it to China, Thailand, and Vietnam.

In 2021, Cargill Incorporated reported revenues of $134.4 billion, making it one of the world’s biggest companies by revenue.

12. Gunvor Group Ltd (Private)

Revenue in 2021: $135 billion

Gunvor Group Ltd is a privately-held Swiss commodity trading company. The company primarily focuses on energy and raw materials trading. Moreover, it is one of the largest crude oil traders in the world. One of Gunvor Group Ltd’s major exports is Russian crude oil.

At the end of 2021, Gunvor Group Ltd posted revenues of $135 billion registering a 170% YoY growth. The gross profit for the year was recorded at $1.55 billion and the net profit was $726 million compared to $320 million in 2020.

11. Vitol (Private)

Revenue in 2021: $279 billion

Vitol is a swiss multinational company that operates in 40 countries. Its primary businesses include energy, commodity trading, logistics, and distribution. It is also involved in power generation and retail. The company is heavily invested in the global import/export of crude oil with over 250 super tankers and vessels that ship more than 350 million tonnes of crude oil per year. Moreover, Vitol also trades coal, natural gas, ethanol, base oils, methanol, gasoline, LNG, LPG, naphtha, and bitumen.

Vitol is the largest private energy trader in the world and reported revenues of $279 billion in 2021. On November 17, it announced the acquisition of Vortex Energy from VH Invest, a renewable energy company in Poland. On top of that, the company halted grain trading in 2016 but is planning to resume it again due to volatility in the segment caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.

10. Celanese Corporation (NYSE:CE)

Market Cap as of November 30: $11.233 billion

Celanese Corporation (NYSE:CE) is an American chemical and advanced materials company. It is the world’s largest producer of acetic acid and vinyl acetate monomer and represent’s 25% of the global production of acetic acid. The company is one of the world’s most significant exporters with 25 production plants and six research centers across 11 countries. Celanese Corporation (NYSE:CE) serves customers globally.

In the last 23 months, Celanese Corporation (NYSE:CE) made two significant acquisitions. The first one was Santoprene from Exxon Mobil for $1.15 billion in 2021, acquiring Santoprene®, Dytron™, and Geolast™ as part of the deal. Later in February 2022, Celanese Corporation (NYSE:CE) agreed to acquire DuPont de Nemours, Inc. (NYSE:DD)’s mobility and material business for $11 billion. The company expects revenue and cost synergies of up to US$450 million from both deals in the next 4 years.

On November 10,  Deutsche Bank analyst David Begleiter maintained a Buy rating on Celanese Corporation (NYSE:CE)’s and lowered his price target to $105 from $110 after the company’s Q3 results.

Here is what Vltava Fund had to say about Celanese Corporation (NYSE:CE) in its Q1 2022 investor letter:

“We then used the money freed up to, among other things, open three new positions. The stock price declines during the Russian invasion brought a lot of good prices to the market. Out of all the possibilities we considered, we picked the stocks of Celanese (CE).

Celanese is the world’s largest producer of acetic acid and its chemical derivatives, including vinyl acetate monomers and emulsions. Their applications are used in a wide range of industries, such as automotive tobacco, coatings, construction, energy, telecommunications, food, and medical. Celanese recently closed the acquisition of a large part of DuPont’s business, which will make Celanese an even bigger player in the industry while reducing the cyclicality of it business. The acquisition is quite large and should deliver significant value to shareholders that in our view is not at all presently reflected in the share price. Celanese is a business that stands more or less aside from the main interests of most investors, but it is a company with very high returns on capital, strong free cash flow, and historically very efficient resource allocation.”

9. Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LW)

Market Cap as of November 30: $12.5 billion

Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LW) is a food processing company that mainly focuses on potato products. It is an Idaho-based company that sells its products locally and also exports them globally. The United States is one of the most notable potato and potato product exporters in the world.

According to our database, 42 hedge funds had a stake in Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LW) worth over $1.5 billion in Q3 2022, compared to 35 hedge funds with a combined value of $1.1 billion in Q2. In the third quarter, Anomaly Capital Management owned over 2.7 million shares of Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LW) making it the most prominent stakeholder in the company.

In early October, JPMorgan analyst Thomas Palmer reaffirmed an Overweight rating on Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LW)’s shares and raised his price target to $101 from $98. Palmer noted that the company reported “another low maintenance” quarter and is on its way to recovery.

Carillon Tower Advisers made the following comment about Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LW) in its Q3 2022 investor letter:

“Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LW) supplies frozen potato products globally to the restaurant and food retail industries. Just as demand began to recover from pandemic shutdowns last year, an unusually small potato harvest exacerbated an inflationary cost environment. Pricing actions have been effective in recent quarters, driving margin recovery and boosting earnings.”

8. eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY)

Market Cap as of November 30: $23.847 billion

eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) is an American e-commerce company. It has operations in 32 countries. The company operates an online auction platform that allows sellers to list their items and sell them worldwide. eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) is technically an exporter because the sellers on the website can choose to deliver their products globally.

On November 15, MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Morton initiated coverage of eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) with a Market Perform rating and a $44 price target. The analyst does not believe in the bear case of e-commerce penetration and says that e-commerce growth will continue.

In the third quarter of 2022, 42 hedge funds kept a piece of eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) in their portfolio. D E Shaw increased its holdings in the company by 25% and was the biggest stakeholder in the company.

Here is what Smead Capital Management had to say about eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) in its Q3 2022 investor letter:

“Two things are very noticeable right off the top. First, sometimes you have to be happy losing less in a bear market environment so that you have more of your capital to grow in the next bull market. We are never really happy losing money. Second, 2022 is likely to be our third year of existence as a fund to lose money for the year. This year would join 2008 and 2018 in this undistinguished category. Our biggest detractors was dominated by eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY). Consumer/investor fears about media and e-commerce hit WBD and EBAY and profit taking in Amgen came from early 2022 strength.”

7. Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE)

Market Cap as of November 30: $38.47 billion

Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE) is the largest steel producer in the United States. It is the 14th biggest steel producer in the world and also the largest recycler of scrap metal in North America. In 2019, the United States exported 7.1 million metric tonnes of steel and Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE) was one of the biggest exporters in the country.

Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE) posted an EPS of $6.50 for the third quarter of 2022, missing the estimates by 21 cents. Furthermore, the revenue declined by 11% QoQ to $10.5 billion, outperforming the estimates by $70 million. By the end of the September quarter, Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE) had $3.51 billion in cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments, and restricted cash and cash equivalents. The company also has an unused revolving credit facility of $1.75 billion, which is set to expire in 2026.

Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE) has been increasing its dividend for 49 consecutive years. As of November 30, the company’s dividend yield is 1.33%. Its latest quarterly dividend of $0.50 was paid out on November 10 to the shareholders of record on September 30.

6. Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE:HMC)

Market Cap as of November 30: $41.56 billion

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE:HMC) is a Japanese automobile, motorcycle, and power equipment manufacturer. It is the world’s largest producer of internal combustion engines (ICE) and motorcycles. It became the first company to become a net exporter from the US in 2013. 

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE:HMC) exports vehicles worldwide, although it is also an importer. The company uses a lot of locally manufactured parts in the US and Japan. Nevertheless, according to the management, it procures parts from all over the world whenever needed.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE:HMC) has depended on the sale of ICEs for a long time and has recently joined the race toward electrification. On March 4, the company partnered with Sony Group Corporation (NYSE:SONY) establishing Sony Honda Mobility Inc. for the manufacture of EVs. Moreover, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE:HMC) also announced the US production of fuel cell EVs in 2024.

Just like Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM), QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM), and Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (NYSE:ADM), Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE:HMC) is also one of the significant global traders.   Click to continue reading and see the 5 Biggest Import-Export Companies in the World.   Suggested Articles:

Disclosure: None. 15 Biggest Import-Export Companies in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.