A West African nation that shares its southern coastline with the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, the Republic of Ghana shipped an estimated US$13.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 30.3% increase from 2016 (no data for 2015) but a -18.8% downtick from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data from 2018 shows that 84% of products exported from Ghana were bought by importers in: India (21.5% of the 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%), United Kingdom (2.9%), France (2.1%) and Italy (1.8%).
From a continental perspective, 48% of Ghana’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 31.4% were sold to importers in Europe. Ghana shipped another 15% worth of goods to Africa. Smaller percentages went to North America (4.3%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.2%), and Ocean’s New Zealand and Australia only (0.1%).
Given Ghana’s population of 30.2 million people, its total $13.9 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $500 for every resident in the West African country.
Ghana’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Ghanaian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Ghana.
- Gems, precious metals: US$4.63 billion (33.3% of total exports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $4.57 billion (32.9%)
- Cocoa: $2.4 billion (17.3%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $611.6 million (4.4%)
- Fruits, nuts: $377.6 million (2.7%)
- Wood: $252 million (1.8%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $178.7 million (1.3%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $145 million (1%)
- Aluminum: $124.8 million (0.9%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $66.2 million (0.5%)
Ghana ’s top 10 exports accounted for 96.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag and ash represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 76.5% from 2018 to 2019 and propelled by higher international sales of manganese or aluminum ores and concentrates. In second place for improving export sales was wood via a 38.9% gain. Ghana’s shipments of aluminum posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 12.2%.
The leading decliner among Ghana’s top 10 export categories was fruits and nuts thanks to a -36.6% drop year over year.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Ghana’s most valuable export product is gold (33.2% of the global total). In second place is crude oil (31.3%) trailed by cocoa beans (10.9%), manganese ores or concentrates (4.1%), cocoa paste (3%), cocoa butter and oil (2.6%) and refined petroleum oils (1.4%).
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$4.6 billion (Down by -24.4% since 2018)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $3.8 billion (Down by -23%)
- Cocoa: $2.4 billion (Down by -26.3%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $609.5 million (Up by 93.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $343.7 million (Down by -41.1%)
- Wood: $188.2 million (Up by 31.3%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $65.1 million (Down by -37.5%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $41.9 million (Reversing a -$108.2 million deficit)
- Vegetables: $37.5 million (Reversing a -$7.4 million deficit)
- Copper: $23.2 million (Reversing a -$26.6 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.
Overall Ghana incurred a -$2 billion product trade deficit for 2019, reversing a $5.2 billion surplus one year earlier.
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.
- Other base metal goods: -US$2.2 billion (Up by 4,976% since 2018)
- Ships, boats: -$1.6 billion (Up by 25203.5%)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.4 billion (Down by -5.7%)
- Vehicles: -$992.6 million (Down by -46.4%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$932.1 million (Up by 45.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$647 million (Up by 70.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$461.5 million (Down by -3.5%)
- Iron, steel: -$358.9 million (Down by -9.9%)
- Meat: -$304.3 million (Up by 86.7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$299.1 million (Up by 7.2%)
Ghana has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the miscellaneous articles made from base metals category.
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Ghana’s total exported goods represent 6.6% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($209.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 6.6% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 9% for 2018. These metrics suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Ghana’s total economic performance albeit based on relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Ghana’s unemployment rate was forecasted to be 6.8% for 2019 up from 6% as of June 2018, per Trading Economics.
Ghana’s capital city is Accra.
See also South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports, Angola’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: Ghana. Accessed on June 15, 2020
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Ghana. Accessed on June 15, 2020
Forbes 2019 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 15, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 15, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 15, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 15, 2020
Wikipedia, Ghana. Accessed on June 15, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 15, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Ghana. Accessed on June 15, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 15, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Accra, Ghana. Accessed on June 15, 2020