Hawaii’s Top 10 Exports

Hawaii state flag courtesy of FlagPictures.org

Hawaii flag

Nicknamed “The Aloha State” and “Paradise of the Pacific” comprised of Polynesia’s northernmost group of islands within the central Pacific Ocean, Hawaii shipped US$647 million worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -32% decline from 2017 to 2018 and a -65.9% decrease since 2015.

Hawaii is America’s smallest exporter by state well behind front-runners Texas, California, New York and Washington state. The value of Hawaii’s exports equals just 0.04% worth of United States’ overall exported products for 2018.

Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Hawaii’s exported products represent 0.7% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2018 ($93.4 billion in current dollars based on BEA statistics).

Given Hawaii’s population of 1.420 million people, its total $647 million in 2018 exports translates to roughly $460 for every resident in the Aloha State.

Hawaii’s unemployment rate was 2.8% at April 2019, up from 2.1% as of March 2018 per YCharts.

Hawaii’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export products represent the highest dollar value in Hawaii global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Hawaii.

Figures are shown at the more granular six-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, for more precise product identification.

  1. Miscellaneous petroleum oils: US$183 million (28.3% of Hawaii’s total exports)
  2. Light petroleum oils: US$108 million (16.7%)
  3. Aircraft including engines, parts: US$47 million (7.3%)
  4. Iron or steel scrap: US$44 million (6.9%)
  5. Cold-water shrimps, prawns: US$24 million (3.8%)
  6. Miscellaneous military equipment: US$19 million (2.9%)
  7. Unsweetened and non-flavored waters: US$14 million (2.2%)
  8. Aluminum waste, scrap: US$13 million (2%)
  9. Beef cuts (boneless, fresh/chilled): US$12 million (1.9%)
  10. Macadamia nuts: US$9 million (1.4%)

Hawaii’s top 10 exports accounted for almost three-quarters (73.4%) of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.

Miscellaneous military equipment was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 375% from 2017 to 2018.

In second place for improving export sales was iron or steel scrap, a product category which appreciated by 51.7%.

Hawaii’s shipments of light petroleum oils posted the third-fastest gain in value via its 47.9% gain, ahead of the 30% increase for aluminum waste and scrap.

The leading year-over-year decliners among Hawaii’s top 10 export products were boneless beef cuts (down 50%) then aircraft including engines and other parts (down -30.9%).

More Key Facts

Overall, Hawaii incurred a -$3.9 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 35.7% year-over-year expansion from -$2.9 billion in red ink for 2017.

Another way of saying surplus or deficit is positive or negative net exports. In a nutshell, the term “net exports” quantifies the amount by which foreign spending on a state’s goods or services exceeds or lags that same state’s spending on foreign goods or services.

Below are Hawaii’s top 10 import products highlighting the state’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2018.

  1. Crude petroleum oils: $2 billion (50.8% of Hawaii’s total imports)
  2. Large aircraft: $415 million (9.2%)
  3. Miscellaneous petroleum oils: $378 million (8.4%)
  4. Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): $107 million (2.4%)
  5. Large automobiles (piston engine): $98 million (2.2%)
  6. Solar power semi-conductors, photovoltaic cells: $48 million (1.1%)
  7. Jewelry articles clad in precious metal: $26 million (0.6%)
  8. Liquified propane: $24 million (0.5%)
  9. Lithium Ion Batteries: $20 million (0.4%)
  10. Wood kitchen furniture (excluding chairs): $18 million (0.4%)

Hawaii has highly negative net exports in the international trade of petroleum oils, particularly crude oils. In turn, these cashflows indicate Hawaii’s competitive disadvantages under those product categories.


The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchased 92.4% worth of the total value of products exported from Hawaii during 2018.

  1. South Korea: $222 million (34.3% of Hawaii’s total exports)
  2. Singapore: $106 million (16.4%)
  3. Japan: $72 million (11.1%)
  4. China: $36 million (5.5%)
  5. Taiwan: $21 million (3.3%)
  6. Vietnam: $20 million (3.1%)
  7. Malaysia: $19 million (3%)
  8. Netherlands: $19 million (2.9%)
  9. Canada: $19 million (2.9%)
  10. Hong Kong: $16 million (2.5%)

Hawaii’s top trade partners in Asia consume about four-fifths (79.2%) of the overall value of exported goods from the Aloha State.


Hawaii Export Companies

Two Hawaii-based corporations rank among Fortune 1000 Companies, a list that showcases America’s largest businesses. Listed below are both firms that have their headquartered in Hawaii’s capital city, Honolulu.

  • Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (airliner for passengers, cargo)
  • Hawaiian Electric Industries (electricity)

Shown within brackets for each company is a summary of the products or services which in each business deals, some of which are international trade-related.


Hawaii’s capital is Honolulu, a city nicknamed “Crossroads of the Pacific” and “Sheltered Bay”.

See also America’s Top 20 Export States, United States Top 10 Exports and Top United States Trade Balances

Research Sources:
Department of Numbers, Hawaii GDP (dollars shown in real terms). Accessed on June 13, 2019

FlagPictures.org, Flags of US States. Accessed on June 13, 2019

Forbes, 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 13, 2019

GeoLounge, Fortune 1000 Companies List for 2016 , Fortune 1000 by State and Place. Accessed on June 13, 2019

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 13, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 13, 2019

State Symbols USA, State Nicknames. Accessed on June 13, 2019

United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade (State by 6-Digit HS Code). Accessed on June 12, 2019

United States Census Bureau, QuickFacts: Hawaii. Accessed on June 13, 2019

Wikipedia, Category: Companies. Accessed on June 13, 2019

Wikipedia, Hawaii. Accessed on June 13, 2019

Wikipedia, List of U.S. states and territories by GDP. Accessed on June 12, 2019

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Honolulu, United States. Accessed on June 13, 2019

YCharts, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Report. Accessed on June 13, 2019