A West African nation that shares its southern coastline with the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, the Republic of Ghana shipped US$17.1 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 35.2% increase from $12.6 billion during 2013 (no data for 2014) and a 19.1% uptick from 2017 to 2018.
The latest data shows that 80.1% of products exported from Ghana were bought by importers in: India (21.5% of its global total), China (11.9%), South Africa (10.2%), Switzerland (9.5%), Netherlands (7.2%), Malaysia (6.5%), United States (3.6%), United Arab Emirates (3.5%), Spain (3.4%) and United Kingdom (2.9%).
From a continental perspective, $8.2 billion or 48% of Ghanaian exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while almost a third (31.4%) were sold to importers in Europe. Ghana shipped another 15% worth of goods to fellow African nations. Smaller percentages went to North America (4.3%), Latin America (1.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.1%) led by New Zealand and Australia.
Given Ghana’s population of 28.1 million people, its total $17.1 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $600 for every resident in the West African country.
In macroeconomic terms, Ghana’s total exported goods represent 9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($190.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 9% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 11.5% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Ghana’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Ghana also provided $7.6 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 4% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Ghana’s unemployment rate was forecasted to be 2% at March 2019, down from 6% as of June 2018.
Ghana’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Ghanaian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Ghana.
- Gems, precious metals: US$6.1 billion (35.6% of total exports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $5.2 billion (30.6%)
- Cocoa: $3.2 billion (19%)
- Fruits, nuts: $595.3 million (3.5%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $346.5 million (2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $204.5 million (1.2%)
- Wood: $181.4 million (1.1%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $178.2 million (1%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $155.8 million (0.9%)
- Aluminum: $111.2 million (0.7%)
Ghana ’s top 10 exports accounted for 95.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag and ash was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 86.2% year over year since 2017 led by manganese or aluminum ores and concentrates.
In second place for improving export sales was fruits and nuts which rose 45.4%.
Ghana ‘s shipments of mineral fuels including oil posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 43.8% year over year, thanks mainly to significant improvements in international sales of refined petroleum oils.
The leading decliner among Ghana’s top 10 export categories was plastics and plastic articles which fell -44.8%.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Ghana’s most valuable export product is gold. In second place is crude oil trailed by cocoa beans, cocoa paste, manganese ores or concentrates, cocoa butter and oil, fish and caviar then rough wood.
Overall Ghana incurred a $5.2 billion product trade surplus for 2018, expanding 218.2% from $1.6 billion one year earlier.
The following types of Ghanaian 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.
- Gems, precious metals: US$6.1 billion (Up by 4% since 2017)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $5 billion (Up by 49.5%)
- Cocoa: $3.2 billion (Up by 33.6%)
- Fruits, nuts: $583.8 million (Up by 46.4%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $315.5 million (Up by 90%)
- Wood: $143.4 million (Down by -15.6%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $104.2 million (Reversing a -$45.6 million deficit)
- Lead: $20.9 million (Up by 73.5%)
- Oil seeds: $13.4 million (Up by 10.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $3.6 million (Reversing a -$13 million deficit)
Ghana has highly positive net exports in the international trade of gold and, to much lesser degrees, diamonds and precious-metal scrap. In turn, these cashflows indicate Ghana’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals product category.
Below are exports from Ghana that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Ghana’s goods trail Ghanaian importer spending on foreign products.
- Vehicles: -US$1.9 billion (Down by -1% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.5 billion (Up by 11.4%)
- Cereals: -$653.4 million (Down by -8.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$639.6 million (Down by -17.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$478.2 million (Down by -4%)
- Iron, steel: -$398.4 million (Up by 7.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$380.1 million (Up by 287.1%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: -$360.8 million (Down by -59.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$279.1 million (Up by 3.4%)
- Other chemical goods: -$273.4 million (Up by 21%)
Ghana has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the vehicles category notably for cars, trucks, tractors and motorcycles.
Ghanaian Export Companies
Not one Ghanaian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists some exports-related companies from Ghana. Selected examples are shown below:
- Accra Brewery Company (beer)
- African Champion Industries (paper)
- Aluworks (aluminum)
- Ayrton Drugs (pharmaceuticals)
- CFAO Ghana (automobiles)
- Cocoa Processing Company (cocao beans)
- Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (oil, gas)
- Kuapa Kokoo (cocao)
- Pioneer Kitchenware (household goods)
- Printex (textiles)
Ghana’s capital city is Accra.
See also South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports, Angola’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Ghana. Accessed on April 23, 2019
Forbes 2018 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 23, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 2, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 2, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 23, 2019
The World Factbook, Africa: Ghana. Accessed on April 23, 2019
Wikipedia, Ghana. Accessed on April 23, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 2, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Ghana. Accessed on April 23, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 2, 2019
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Accra, Ghana. Accessed on April 23, 2019