Located in northwestern South America, the Republic of Ecuador shipped US$21.6 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -16% retreat since 2014 but a 13% expansion from 2017 to 2018.
From a continental perspective, 32% of Ecuadorian exports by value are delivered to North America while 27.9% are sold to importers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Ecuador ships another 19.9% worth of goods to customers in Asia with 19.6% going to Europe. Smaller amounts arrived in Africa (0.4%) and Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia.
Given Ecuador’s population of 16.5 million people, its total $21.6 billion in 2018 exported products translates to roughly $1,300 for every resident in the South American country.
In macroeconomic terms, Ecuador’s total exported goods represent 10.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($199.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 10.8% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 11.8% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Ecuador’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Ecuador also provided $2.5 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 1.3% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Ecuador’s unemployment rate was 5.8% at March 2019 up from 5.7% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.
Ecuador’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Ecuadorian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Ecuador.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$8.8 billion (40.8% of total exports)
- Fish: $3.6 billion (16.5%)
- Fruits, nuts: $3.4 billion (15.6%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $1.2 billion (5.7%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $858.6 million (4%)
- Cocoa: $777.8 million (3.6%)
- Wood: $381.7 million (1.8%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $263.4 million (1.2%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $237.4 million (1.1%)
- Gems, precious metals: $177.8 million (0.8%)
Ecuador’s top 10 exports account for 91.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories via its 27.4% gain in value from 2017 to 2018.
In second place for improving export sales were cocoa shipments from Ecuador which rose 25.8%.
Exports of wood from Ecuador posted the third-fastest gain in value (up 10.9%) trailed by fish exports (up 8.1%).
International sales for two top categories declined year over year: animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes (down -10.7%) and live trees, plants and cut flowers (down -3.6%).
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Ecuador’s most valuable exported products is crude oil (36.3% of its overall total). In second place was lobsters including crustaceans (15%) trailed by bananas and plantains (14.9%), preserved or prepared fish and caviar (5.6%), refined petroleum oils (4.4%), fresh or dried flowers (3.9%), cocoa beans (3.1%), palm oil (0.9%) then gold (0.8%).
The following types of Ecuadorian 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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$4.3 billion (Up by 20.6% since 2017)
- Fish: $3.5 billion (Up by 7.4%)
- Fruits, nuts: $3.2 billion (Up by 5.4%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $1.2 billion (Up by 5.5%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $837.1 million (Down by -3.9%)
- Cocoa: $736.7 million (Up by 12.3%)
- Wood: $319.2 million (Up by 5.6%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $189.7 million (Up by 2.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $155.3 million (Up by 2%)
- Vegetables: $127.2 million (Up by 31.3%)
Ecuador has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil and, to a much lesser extent, electricity. In turn, these cashflows indicate Ecuador’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels-related category.
Overall Ecuador incurred a -$1.4 billion trade deficit for 2018, swelling by 95.6% from the -$722.5 million in red ink from one year earlier.
Below are exports from Ecuador that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Ecuador’s goods trail Ecuadorian importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$2.6 billion (Up by 12.3% since 2017)
- Vehicles: -$2.3 billion (Up by 22.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.8 billion (Up by 11.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1 billion (Up by 15.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$946.1 million (Down by -0.6%)
- Iron, steel: -$786.6 million (Up by 7.5%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: -$702.7 million (Up by 45.5%)
- Other chemical goods: -$495.1 million (Up by 5.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$471.8 million (Down by -1.1%)
- Organic chemicals: -$378.4 million (Up by 6.8%)
Ecuador has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery, notably for computers.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Ecuador’s competitive disadvantages in the international machinery market, but also represent key opportunities for Ecuador to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Ecuadorian Export Companies
Not one Ecuadorian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list some exporters from Ecuador. Selected examples are shown below:
- Corporación Nacional de Telecomunicaciones–CNT EP (telecommunications)
- Marathon Sports (sport equipment)
- Ecua-Andino Hats (panama hats)
- Tiendas Industriales Asociadas S.A.–Tía S.A. (discount retailer)
- TAME EP Linea Aerea del Ecuador (airliner)
- Zhumir Latin Spirit (liquor)
Ecuador’s capital city is Quito.
See also Top South American Export Countries, Ecuador’s Top 10 Imports, Ecuador’s Top Trading Partners and Ecuador’s Bananas Exports by Country
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 18, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 2, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on July 2, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 18, 2019
Wikipedia, Ecuador. Accessed on March 18, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 2, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Ecuador. Accessed on March 18, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 2, 2019