Located in northwestern South America, the Republic of Ecuador shipped US$22.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 21.8% increase since 2015 and a 3.3% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
Ecuador’s official currency is US dollars.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 81% of products exported from Ecuador were bought by importers in: the United States (30.2% of the global total), China (13%), Panama (8.6%), Chile (6.7%), Peru (4.3%), Russia (3.9%), Colombia (3.8%), Spain (2.9%), Netherlands (2.6%), Italy (2.1%), Japan (1.6%) and Vietnam (1.5%).
From a continental perspective, 31.1% of Ecuador’s exports by value were delivered to North American countries while 27.7% were sold to importers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Ecuador shipped another 21.6% worth of goods to Asia. Another 18.6%. went to European nations. Smaller percentages went to Africa (0.7%) and Oceania led by New Zealand and Australia (0.2%).
Given Ecuador’s population of 17.3 million people, its total $22.3 billion in 2019 exported products translates to roughly $1,300 for every resident in the South American country.
Ecuador’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Ecuadorian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Ecuador.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$8.7 billion (39.2% of total exports)
- Fish: $4.2 billion (19%)
- Fruits, nuts: $3.5 billion (15.6%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $1.2 billion (5.4%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $887 million (4%)
- Cocoa: $763.9 million (3.4%)
- Wood: $463.7 million (2.1%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $215.8 million (1%)
- Vegetables: $208.3 million (0.9%)
- Gems, precious metals: $204.1 million (0.9%)
Ecuador’s top 10 exports account for 91.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Vegetables represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 23.8% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was wood via a 21.5% gain. Ecuador’s shipments of fish: posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 18.9%.
The leading decliner among Ecuador’s top 10 export categories was the vegetable, fruit and nut preparations thanks to a -9.1% drop year over year.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Ecuador’s most valuable exported products is crude oil (34.6% of its overall total). In second place was lobsters including crustaceans (17.5%) trailed by bananas and plantains (14.8%), preserved or prepared fish and caviar (5.3%), refined petroleum oils (4.2%), fresh or dried flowers (3.9%), cocoa beans (2.9%), gold (0.9%) then frozen vegetables (0.7%).
Overall Ecuador posted a $2.1 billion trade surplus for 2019, reversing -$1.4 billion in red ink one year earlier.
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$4.4 billion (Up by 2.4% since 2018)
- Fish: $4.1 billion (Up by 19%)
- Fruits, nuts: $3.4 billion (Up by 3.4%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $1.2 billion (Down by -2.6%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $865.6 million (Up by 3.4%)
- Cocoa: $719.2 million (Down by -2.4%)
- Wood: $406.3 million (Up by 27.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $181.1 million (Up by 16.6%)
- Vegetables: $168.2 million (Up by 32.3%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $167.6 million (Down by -11.7%)
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.
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$2.1 billion (Down by -17.9% since 2018)
- Vehicles: -$1.4 billion (Down by -38.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.2 billion (Down by -34.7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$945.2 million (Down by -0.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$877.3 million (Down by -13.9%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: -$689.8 million (Down by -1.8%)
- Iron, steel: -$652.1 million (Down by -17.1%)
- Other chemical goods: -$477.8 million (Down by -3.5%)
- Cereals: -$357.2 million (Up by 1.5%)
- Fertilizers: -$323.3 million (Down by -4.5%)
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Ecuador’s total exported goods represent 11% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($202.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 11% of exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 10.8% for 2018. This suggests a slightly decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Ecuador’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Ecuador’s average unemployment rate was 4.328% for 2019 up from 3.69% one year earlier, according to the International Monetary Fund.
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
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook South America: Ecuador. Accessed on March 30, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 30, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 30, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 30, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 30, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 30, 2020
Wikipedia, Ecuador. Accessed on March 30, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 30, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Ecuador. Accessed on March 30, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 30, 2020