A transcontinental country that spans Africa’s northeast corner to Asia’s southwest corner via the Sinai Peninsula, the Arab Republic of Egypt shipped US$29.4 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 9.6% gain since 2014 and a 13.3% uptick from 2017 to 2018.
From a continental perspective, $12 billion or 40.8% of Egyptian exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while a third (33.4%) were sold to importers in Europe. Egypt shipped another 16.2% worth of goods to Africa with 6.3% going to North America. Smaller percentages went to Latin America (1.4%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.1%) led by Australia.
Given Egypt’s population of 99.4 million people, its total $29.4 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $300 for every resident in the transcontinental nation.
In macroeconomic terms, Egypt’s total exported goods represent 2.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($1.296 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 2.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 1.8% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Egypt’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Egypt also provided $23.6 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 1.8% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Egypt’s unemployment rate was 8.1% at March 2019 down from 10.6% one year earlier, according to estimates from Trading Economics.
Egypt’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Egyptian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Egypt.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$7.2 billion (24.5% of total exports)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.8 billion (6.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.6 billion (5.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.5 billion (5%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.4 billion (4.8%)
- Fertilizers: $1.4 billion (4.7%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $1.1 billion (3.6%)
- Iron, steel: $1 billion (3.6%)
- Vegetables: $911.4 million (3.1%)
- Aluminum: $673.6 million (2.3%)
Egypt ’s top 10 exports accounted for 63% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 42.2% year over year since 2017 led by refined petroleum oils.
In second place for improving export sales was aluminum which was up by 39.8%.
Egypt ‘s shipments of fertilizers posted the third-fastest gain in value rising 31.8% year over year.
The leading decliner among the top 10 Egyptian export categories was gems, precious metals which fell -31%, weighed down by shrinking international sales of gold.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, processed petroleum oils represent Egypt’s most valuable exported product at 14.2% of the country’s total. In second place was crude oil (7.3%) trailed by gold (4.9%), nitrogenous fertilizers (4.2%), fresh or dried citrus fruit (2.6%), petroleum gases (2.3%), insulated wire and cable (2%), TV receivers, monitors and projectors (1.9%), ethylene polymers (1.8%) then hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (1.6%).
The following types of Egyptian 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.
- Fertilizers: US$1.2 billion (Up by 32.1% since 2017)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.1 billion (Reversing a -$255.8 million deficit)
- Fruits, nuts: $972.3 million (Up by 4%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $630.1 million (Reversing a -$33.5 million deficit)
- Vegetables: $435.2 million (Down by -28.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $410.3 million (Up by 6.8%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $348.8 million (Up by 2.4%)
- Glass: $249.8 million (Down by -2.4%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $243.1 million (Down by -6.5%)
- Textile floor coverings: $228.6 million (Down by -14.2%)
Egypt has highly positive net exports in the international trade of fertilizers. In turn, these cashflows indicate Egypt’s strong competitive advantages under the fertilizers product category.
Overall Egypt incurred a -$51.6 billion product trade deficit for 2018, up by 27.8% from the -$44.5 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Egypt that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Egypt’s goods trail Egyptian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$6.9 billion (Up by 6.8% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: -$6.3 billion (Up by 13.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$5.2 billion (Up by 68%)
- Vehicles: -$4.7 billion (Up by 54.6%)
- Cereals: -$4.5 billion (Up by 3.2%)
- Iron, steel: -$3.4 billion (Up by 42.4%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$3 billion (Up by 21.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$2.1 billion (Up by 23.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$2.1 billion (Up by 7.9%)
- Meat: -$1.7 billion (Up by 8.1%)
Egypt has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category particularly for refined petroleum oils, petroleum gases then crude oil.
Egyptian Export Companies
One Egyptian regional bank ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2016, namely Cairo-based Commercial International Bank.
Wikipedia lists some exports-related companies from Egypt. Selected examples are shown below:
- ABU QIR Fertilizers and Chemicals Industries (nitrogen fertilizers)
- Al-Mansour Automotive (automobiles)
- Arab American Vehicles (automobiles)
- Arab Contractors (construction materials)
- BiscoMisr (baked products)
- Challenger Ltd (oil, gas)
- Corona (confectionery, chocolate)
- Egyptian Natural Gas (oil, gas)
- Egy-Tech Engineering (automobiles)
- Juhayna (beverages, yogurt)
Egypt’s capital city is Cairo.
See also Uganda’s Top 10 Exports, Somalia’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
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FlagPictures.org, Flag of Egypt. Accessed on April 22, 2019
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Foreign Trade , United States Census Bureau. Accessed on June 29, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 29, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 22, 2019
Wikipedia, Egypt. Accessed on April 22, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Egypt. Accessed on April 22, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 29, 2019
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Cairo, Egypt. Accessed on April 22, 2019