Sustainable development in Germany - 17 Goals to Transform our World

Opening markets – Improving trade opportunities for developing countries

Indicator 17.3: Imports from least developed countries

(Evaluation of the year 2019 as reporting year from indicator report 2021)


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This overview includes additional information on the indicators presented above, such as a brief definition of the indicator and a description of the politically determined target value, as well as the political intention for selecting the indicator.

Definition of indicators (Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy)

The indicator shows what share of imports to Germany come from the least developed countries (LDCs), measured in EUR.

Target and intention of the German Government (Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy)

For global sustainable development to succeed, it is important to improve the trading opportunities available to developing and emerging countries. They need an open and fair trading system that will allow them to offer raw materials as well as processed products on the world market. The German Government has therefore set itself the target of doubling the proportion of its imports that come from LDCs between 2014 and 2030.

Data state

The data published in the indicator report 2021 is as of 31.12.2020. The data shown on the DNS-Online-Platform is updated regularly, so that more current data may be available online than published in the indicator report 2021.

Last modification of code (data) 2022-08-17: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window
Last modification of code (text) 2022-08-17: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window

Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy

Information about imports to Germany is compiled from the foreign-trade statistics of the Federal Statistical Office. The type of the goods imported is recorded in detail in addition to their country of origin, value and weight. The service sector is not included in the foreign-trade statistics.

The various countries’ classification as LDCs is taken from the list of ODA recipients maintained by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The indicator uses the list of LDCs valid according to the DAC for each particular reporting years. If the status of a country changes, this will have an impact on the indicator even if the value of imports from that country remains unchanged. However, changes in countries’ status have scarcely affected the development of the indicator in the period shown.

The issue of reimports means that the possibility of duplicate entries in the numerator and denominator of the indicator cannot be ruled out. The fact that the imports from LDCs are viewed in relation to all German imports must also be taken into account. The consequence is that the value of the indicator depends not only on the absolute quantity of imports from LDCs but also on the value of all imports.

Alongside Germany’s total imports from LDCs, the indicator also shows what share is made up of processed products. The intention here is to address the question, at least to some extent, as to whether Germany mainly uses LDCs as sources of basic materials for industrially produced goods or whether the LDCs themselves have a stake in the manufacturing process and the associated value creation. These include all goods not classified as raw materials in the classification according to product groups of the food and industrial economy (EGW). The term thus does not encompass products extracted from nature and not or hardly processed, such as petroleum, ores, timber in the rough or vegetable textile fibres. Conversely, cereals, vegetables, live animals, meat and milk are classified as processed products.

Imports from LDCs accounted for 0.94% of all imports to Germany in 2019 and were valued at EUR 10.4 billion. This equates to an increase of 116% compared with 2002, when that share was just 0.44%. However, the positive trend only goes back to 2008. The share of imports of processed products from LDCs rose even more sharply between 2002 and 2019 (+151%). It reached 0.89% of total imports to Germany in 2019 − compared to 0.36% in 2002 − which equates to a value of around EUR 9.9 billion. That share has stagnated in the last three reporting years. Nonetheless, if the increase over the last five years continues, is it to be expected that the benchmark will be reached.

Closer analysis of the various countries of origin reveals that almost three quarters of Germany’s imports from LDCs in 2019 came from Bangladesh (57%) or Cambodia (16%). If one looks not only at the LDCs but at all developing and emerging countries, their share of total imports to Germany in 2019 was 21.8%, and processed products from those countries accounted for 20.11% (up from 13.67% and 12.17% respectively in 2002). Imports from LDCs, both in terms of all goods and in terms of processed goods, thus account for a rather small share of imports from developing and emerging countries. As is shown above, however, their share of Germany’s total imports has increased more dramatically over time. Not only among developing and emerging countries but also more generally, China plays the most major role. Of all German imports in 2019, 9.97% came from China alone, with processed goods making up 9.94%.

This summary table illustrates the evaluations of the indicator by status of previous years. This shows whether the weather symbol for an indicator has been stable or rather volatile in the past years. (Evaluations from the indicator report 2021)


17.3 Imports from least developed countries


Increase the proportion by 100 % by 2030, compared to 2014






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 Federal Statistical Office


Federal Statistical Office

Data source Exports and imports (foreign trade) opens in a new window