Iceland flag Iceland: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Iceland

Foreign Trade in Figures

Iceland has always been open to international trade, with trade representing 94% of its GDP (World Bank). Most restrictions on foreign exchange transactions and cross-border movement of domestic and foreign currency for both businesses and households were lifted to stimulate foreign trade. However, barriers to trade and market entry still exist, including the adoption of EU product standards and regulations, high tariffs on most agricultural products from outside the EU, restrictions on the import of certain products like raw meat due to phytosanitary regulations, and difficulty in obtaining financing for joint ventures.

Traditional sectors like fishing drive the dynamism of the country's exports, with more than 40% of national exports consisting of fishing products. Additionally, Iceland exports aluminum and ferrosilicon (around one-third of total exports), as well as dairy products. Major imports include petroleum oils, motor cars, artificial corundum, and carbon electrodes.

According to data from Statistics Iceland, in 2022, the country’s main export destinations were the Netherlands (37.5% of total exports), the United Kingdom (9%), the U.S. (7.8%), Germany (6.5%), and France (6.4%). Imports primarily originated from Norway (12.3%), China (9.4%), Germany (8.3%), the Netherlands (7.1%), the U.S. (6.3%), and Denmark (6%). Overall, the European Union absorbs more than two-thirds of Icelandic exports and supplies around half of the total imports, as Iceland is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA).

In 2022, Iceland exported USD 7.3 billion worth of merchandise (a 23.4% increase year-on-year) and imported USD 9.6 billion (a 22.6% increase). However, Iceland is a net service exporter, with USD 5.4 billion in exports compared to USD 4 billion in imports in 2022 (data from the WTO). Despite this, the overall external balance for goods and services was negative by 1.8% of GDP in 2022 (World Bank data). According to the latest figures from Statistics Iceland for the year 2023, the total value of exported goods was ISK 913.9 billion, or ISK 90.4 billion lower (a 9% decrease) than during the previous 12 months at current exchange rates. Manufacturing products contributed 54% of the total exports, with their value decreasing by 13%. Marine products contributed 37% of total exported goods, with their value decreasing by 4% compared to the previous 12 months.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 7,6796,5675,6977,8179,591
Exports of Goods (million USD) 5,5565,2234,5825,9877,389
Imports of Services (million USD) 4,1603,5582,2852,9374,080
Exports of Services (million USD) 6,5285,6832,7973,7365,475

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 88.682.968.076.893.4
Trade Balance (million USD) -1,460-838-626-1,113-1,534
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 9221,125-321-511-102
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -0.9-9.1-20.619.919.7
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 0.4-5.5-31.114.720.6
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 42.639.234.839.447.0
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 46.043.733.237.446.3

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 6.52.83.63.53.2
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 1.80.91.41.92.0

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Iceland is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement.

The country has signed a large number of multilateral and bilateral agreements.

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
Netherlands 37.7%
United Kingdom 9.0%
United States 7.8%
Germany 6.5%
France 6.4%
See More Countries 32.6%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
Norway 12.3%
China 9.4%
Germany 8.3%
Netherlands 7.1%
United States 6.3%
See More Countries 56.5%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

7.4 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Unwrought aluminiumUnwrought aluminium 35.8%
Fish fillets and other fish meat, whether or not...Fish fillets and other fish meat, whether or not minced, fresh, chilled or frozen 15.6%
Fish, fresh or chilled (excl. fish fillets and...Fish, fresh or chilled (excl. fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 0304) 6.3%
Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish...Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 0304) 4.9%
Ferro-alloysFerro-alloys 4.6%
See More Products 32.8%
9.6 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 13.7%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 7.6%
Artificial corundum, whether or not chemically...Artificial corundum, whether or not chemically defined; aluminium oxide; aluminium hydroxide 7.2%
Carbon electrodes, carbon brushes, lamp carbons,...Carbon electrodes, carbon brushes, lamp carbons, battery carbons and other articles of graphite or other carbon, with or without metal, of a kind used for electrical purposes 5.1%
Automatic data-processing machines and units...Automatic data-processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 3.0%
See More Products 63.3%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: April 2024

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