A look at trade in the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean has been shaped by trade since ancient times, and remains a vibrant economic space today.
The overall value of Mediterranean exports to the rest of the world is about US$1.2 trillion. Germany (US$200 billion), the United States (US$120 billion) and the UK (US$100 billion) are the Med’s primary export destinations.
The key commodities exported and imported by countries in the region include nuclear-energy related goods, vehicles, mineral fuels, and electrical machinery.
Germany is the biggest exporter to Med countries (US$260 billion), with China following closely behind (US$180 billion). Other key exporters include the USA, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
For the majority of Med countries, imports and exports account for approximately 20%-40% of GDP. Several Mediterranean countries – including Malta, Slovenia, Cyprus and Lebanon – are open economies that also act as key regional trade hubs.
Notably, the majority of trade is with non-Med countries. Less than a third of total international trade in the region is between Med countries, pointing to an important opportunity for expansion. The European Commission is committed to creating a deep Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area, removing barriers to trade and investment between both the EU and Southern Mediterranean countries and between the Southern Mediterranean countries themselves.
EU-Southern Mediterranean relations are mainly managed through Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements which are in force with most of the partners (with the exception of Syria and Libya) but are limited only to trade in goods. A number of bilateral negotiations are on-going or being prepared in order to deepen the Association Agreements including further liberalisation of trade in agriculture, liberalisation of trade in services, accreditation and acceptance of industrial products and regulatory convergence.
Although economic integration between Mediterranean countries is relatively limited, this is not true across the region. The heatmap below shows that Albania and Cyprus are the countries with the largest share of imports originating from other Med countries (56%). Tunisia follows closely behind, importing around 49% from other Med countries - mostly France and Italy. On the other end of the spectrum, Israel has the smallest share of imports originating from other Med countries (12%) followed by Turkey (15%).