Iraq’s Top 10 Exports

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Exports from Iraq total an estimated US$64.6 billion in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a -23.5% decline since 2014 but a 31.2% increase from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Iraq’s exported goods plus services represent 39.7% of total Iraqi economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes a sizable share of re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

Given Iraq’s population of 39.2 million people, its total $64.6 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $1,600 for every resident in the Middle Eastern country.

Iraq’s unemployment rate was 14.8% for 2017 compared to 16.4% in 2014, according to the latest estimates from Trading Economics.

Iraq’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Iraqi global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Iraq.

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Iraq’s most valuable exported product is crude oil far ahead of refined petroleum oils, gold, petroleum gases then petroleum oil residues.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$63 billion (97.5% of total exports)
  2. Gems, precious metals: $1.4 billion (2.2%)
  3. Fruits, nuts: $43.3 million (0.1%)
  4. Woodpulp: $32.9 million (0.1%)
  5. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $26.4 million (0.04%)
  6. Machinery including computers: $14.5 million (0.02%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $11.1 million (0.02%)
  8. Aluminum: $6.5 million (0.01%)
  9. Electrical machinery, equipment: $5.9 million (0.01%)
  10. Articles of iron or steel: $3.5 million (0.01%)

Iraq’s top 10 exports accounted for 99.9% of the overall value of its global shipments, a metric showing that Iraqi export products are heavily concentrated particularly around petroleum-related products.

Iron or steel items were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 126.5% for the 4-year period starting in 2014.

In second place for Iraq’s improving export sales was woodpulp via its up 67.2%.

Iraqi mineral fuels including oil posted the third-fastest gain in value up 35.5%.

Exported aluminum led the decliners down by -85.5% from 2014 to 2017. The second-most severely declining product category was fruits and nuts via a -62.9% downturn, trailed by electrical machinery and equipment (down -61.2%) then exported gems and precious metals (down -41.9%) due to much lower sales of Iraq’s exported gold.

Advantages

Thanks to higher oil prices, Iraq posted an overall $32.4 billion trade surplus for 2017.

The following types of Iraqi 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.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$62.7 billion (Up by 38% since 2016)
  2. Woodpulp: $32.8 million (Up by 74.5%)
  3. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $26.3 million (Down by -3.3%)
  4. Lead: $1.8 million (Reversing a -$218,000 deficit)

Iraq has highly positive net exports in the international trade of oil. In turn, these cashflows indicate Iraq’s strong competitive advantages under the petroleum product category. The flipside of the coin is that Iraq’s international trade scorecard depends heavily on global oil prices and, lacking product diversification, is vulnerable to petroleum-specific downturns.

Opportunities

Below are exports from Iraq that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Iraq’s goods trail Iraqi importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Machinery including computers: US-$3.4 billion (Down by -20.5% since 2016)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.8 billion (Down by -19.7%)
  3. Vehicles : -$1.8 billion (Up by 6.1%)
  4. Articles of iron or steel: -$1.23 billion (Down by -17.1%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.16 billion (Down by -41.2%)
  6. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$1.11 billion (Up by 18.4%)
  7. Pharmaceuticals: -$1.1 billion (Down by -1.7%)
  8. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: -$969.4 million (Up by 4.4%)
  9. Meat: -$792.8 million (Up by 32.7%)
  10. Iron, steel: -$700.4 million (Up by 18.2%)

Iraq has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery products.

Companies

Iraqi Export Companies

Not one Iraqi corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.

Wikipedia does list major companies from Iraq, some of which are active participants in international trade. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Iraq National Oil Company (crude oil, natural gas)
  • Iraqi Airways Company (domestic/regional airliner)
  • Iraqi Oil Tankers Company (maritime transport of petroleum)
  • Trade Bank of Iraq (trade deal financing)


 
Nicknamed the City of Peace, Baghdad is the capital city for the Republic of Iraq.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Top Middle Eastern Export Countries, Iraq’s Top Trading Partners and South Africa’s Top 10 Exports

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on May 29, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 29, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on May 29, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 29, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Iraq. Accessed on May 29, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 29, 2018