A North American island country in the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles region, Barbados exported US$444.1 million worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -8% drop since 2015 and a -3% dip from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 62.6% of products exported from Barbados were bought by importers in: United States (20.5% of the global total), Jamaica (7%), Guyana (6.7%), Trinidad/Tobago (6.5%), Saint Lucia (3.9%), Canada (3.4%), St Vincent/Grenadines (3%), Antigua and Barbuda (2.8%), Grenada (2.5%), Hong Kong (2.2%), Saint Kitts/Nevis (2.1%) and Dominica (2.1%).
The accounting category “ship stores and bunkers” held 24.4% of Barbadian exports in 2019. From a continental perspective, 42% of Barbados’ exports by value were delivered to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean countries while 23.9% were sold to importers in North America. Barbados shipped another 5.5% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Asia (3%), Africa (0.2%) then Oceania (0.005%) led by Australia.
Given Barbados’ population of 287,000 people, the total $444.1 million in 2019 Barbadian exports translates to roughly $1,500 for every person living on the Caribbean island.
Barbados’ Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Barbadian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall Barbadian exports.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$127.4 million (28.7% of total exports)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $52.7 million (11.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $27.1 million (6.1%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $25.4 million (5.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: $21.8 million (4.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $19.5 million (4.4%)
- Clocks, watches including parts: $18.7 million (4.2%)
- Paper, paper items: $15.5 million (3.5%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $11.9 million (2.7%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $10.4 million (2.3%)
Barbados’ top 10 exports account for about three-quarters (74.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Clocks and watches including parts was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 138.5% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was the salt, sulphur, stone and cement category via a 22.9% gain. Barbados’ shipments of cereal or milk preparations posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 8%.
The leading decliner among Barbados’s top 10 export categories was gems and precious metals, thanks to a -22% fall year over year
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, the most valuable exported products from Barbados are refined petroleum oils (24.4%), alcohol including spirits and liqueurs (10.4%), medicines for prophylactic or therapeutic purposes (5.8%), hydraulic cements (5.6%), jewelry (4.2%), crude oil (3.4%), orthopedic appliances (3.3%), paper labels (2.6%), wrist or pocket watches encased in precious metals (2.4%) then margarine (2.3%).
The following types of Barbadian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: US$18.9 million (Up by 47.3% since 2018)
- Clocks, watches including parts: $13.4 million (Reversing a -$3.5 million deficit)
- Gems, precious metals: $9.8 million (Up by 77.6%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $6.5 million (Down by -20.9%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $2 million (Up by 264.6%)
- Live animals: $755,000 (Up by 8.5%)
- Woodpulp: $71,000 (Up by 65.1%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $60,000 (Down by -82.9%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $26,000 (Down by -7.1%)
Barbados has highly positive net exports in the international trade of cement and, to a lesser degree, limestone and gravel. In turn, these cashflows indicate Barbados’s strong competitive advantages under the salt, sulphur, stone and cement product category.
Overall, Barbados incurred a -$1.1 billion product trade deficit for 2019.
Below are exports from Barbados that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Barbados’s goods trail Barbadian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$236.7 million (Down by -5.6% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$129.3 million (Up by 13.9%)
- Vehicles: -$89.1 million (Up by 3.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$83.6 million (Up by 12%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$45.3 million (Down by -11.4%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: -$38.8 million (Up by 3%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$32 million (Down by -4.4%)
- Meat: -$31 million (Up by 7%)
- Paper, paper items: -$30.8 million (Up by 26%)
- Wood: -$26.4 million (Up by 5.6%)
Barbados has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for refined petroleum oils, petroleum gases and petroleum coke under the mineral fuels including oil category.
Barbadian Export Companies
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Barbados. Selected examples are shown below:
- Banks Barbados Brewery (alcoholic beverages)
- Barbados National Oil Company (oil and gas)
- Mount Gay Rum (alcoholic beverages)
- Solar Dynamics (solar heaters)
- West Indies Sugar & Trading Co (sugar)
- WIBISCO (biscuits, other food products)
In macroeconomic terms, Barbados’ total exported goods represent 8.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($5.4 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 8.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 8.6% one year earlier. This seems to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Barbados’ total economic performance, albeit based on very short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Barbados’ average unemployment rate was 10.357% for 2019 up from 10.05% in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.
See also America’s Top Trading Partners and Refined Oil Exports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, Country Profiles, The World Factbook. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 3, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 3, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 3, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Barbados. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 3, 2020