With agri-food exports reaching €120 billion in 2013, the EU28 became the world’s number one exporter of agricultural and food products.

This is one of the main conclusions of the overview of the EU’s agricultural trade performance in 2013 just published by the European Commission. Although globally the modest growth in total world trade in 2013 is attributed to the slowdown of developing economies, the EU export growth was stimulated by demand for particular commodities in the developing countries, and was achieved despite the strong euro in 2013.

The report says that although generally the EU is a renowned exporter of high value added final products, last year the EU owes the growth in 2013 largely to more exports in volume of commodities, with cereals (wheat and barley) alone accounting for over two thirds of the total export gain.

The biggest absolute EU export gain was registered in China, which was also the second fastest growing market in relative terms, after Saudi Arabia. EU sales to its top partner, the US, showed only a modest growth, but imports (of animal feed particularly) from the US increased sharply.

The EU also maintained its top-importer position, imports remained virtually unchanged in 2013 stretching the EU agricultural trade surplus to €18.6 billion. The standstill in the growth of agricultural imports showed that the EU demand has not fully recovered, although lower prices of some commodities, such as coffee or cotton, also hampered the growth of EU imports in value.