A transcontinental country that spans Africa’s northeast corner to Asia’s southwest corner via the Sinai Peninsula, the Arab Republic of Egypt shipped an estimated US$25.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 16.2% increase since 2015 but a -13.1% downtick from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data from 2018 shows that 56.5% of products exported from Egypt were bought by importers in: Italy (7% of the global total), Turkey (6.9%), United Arab Emirates (6.8%), United States (5.9%), Saudi Arabia (4.9%), United Kingdom (4.6%), Spain (4.4%), India (3.9%), China (3.5%), Algeria (3.4%), France (3%) and Germany (2.3%).
From a continental perspective, 40.8% of Egypt’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 33.4% were sold to importers in Europe. Egypt shipped another 16.2% worth of goods to Africa. Smaller percentages went to North America (6.3%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.4%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.1%).
Given Egypt’s population of 99.2 million people, its total $25.5 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $260 for every resident in the transcontinental nation.
Egypt’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Egyptian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Egypt.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$8.9 billion (34.9% of total exports)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.6 billion (6.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.4 billion (5.4%)
- Fertilizers: $1.3 billion (4.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.2 billion (4.8%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $984.3 million (3.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $970.3 million (3.8%)
- Vegetables: $957.3 million (3.8%)
- Gems, precious metals: $729.7 million (2.9%)
- Iron, steel: $570.4 million (2.2%)
Egypt’s top 10 exports accounted for 72.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Knitted or crocheted clothing and accessories represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 78% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales were mineral fuels including oil via a 23.6% gain led by crude oil. The only other top product category to grow were Egypt’s shipments of vegetables, up by 5%.
The leading decliner among Egypt’s top 10 export categories was gems and precious metals, weighed down by shrinking international revenues for gold.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, crude oil represents Egypt’s most valuable exported product at 18.7% of the country’s total. In second place were processed petroleum oils (12.3%) trailed by nitrogenous fertilizers (4%), petroleum gases (3.5%), fresh or dried citrus fruit (2.9%) then gold (2.6%).
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$4.5 billion (Reversing a -$6.9 billion deficit in 2018)
- Fertilizers: $1.2 billion (Down by -5.1% since 2018)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.1 billion (Up by 14.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $767.2 million (Up by 87%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $647.6 million (Up by 2.8%)
- Gems, precious metals: $623.2 million (Down by -42%)
- Vegetables: $509.8 million (Up by 17.2%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $380.1 million (Up by 116.9%)
- Textile floor coverings: $213.8 million (Down by -6.5%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $153.5 million (Down by -56%)
Egypt has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Egypt’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels-related category.
Overall Egypt incurred a -$39.6 billion product trade deficit for 2019, down by -23.3% from the -$51.6 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.
- Machinery including computers: -US$7.2 billion (Up by 14.3% since 2018)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$5.2 billion (Up by 0.3%)
- Vehicles: -$4.2 billion (Down by -10.3%)
- Cereals: -$3.4 billion (Down by -26.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$2.2 billion (Up by 5.4%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$1.9 billion (Up by 116.5%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$1.91 billion (Up by 138140.5%)
- Iron, steel: -$1.9 billion (Down by -44.2%)
- Organic chemicals: -$1.6 billion (Up by 25.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.5 billion (Down by -29.7%)
Egypt has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers product category.
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Egypt’s total exported goods represent 1.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($1.391 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 1.8% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 2.3% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Egypt’s total economic performance albeit based on relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Egypt’s average unemployment rate was 8.612% for 2019 down from 10.932% one year earlier, according to the International Monetary Fund.
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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Wikipedia, Egypt. Accessed on June 14, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 14, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Egypt. Accessed on June 14, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 14, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Cairo, Egypt. Accessed on June 14, 2020