Jamaica’s Top 10 Exports

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An island country in the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica shipped US$1.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016, down by -8.7% since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in and down by -4.8% from 2015 to 2016.

Jamaica’s top 10 exports accounted for 82.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Jamaica’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $26.474 billion as of April 2017 (on a purchasing power parity basis). Therefore, exports represent about 4% of total Jamaican economic output.

Based on 2015 data, 51.6% of Jamaican exports by value were delivered to North America while 32% were sold to European importers. Jamaica shipped another 9% worth of goods to Latin American (other than Mexico) and the Caribbean, with 8% going to Asian nations.

Given Jamaica’s population of 3 million people, its total $1.2 billion in 2016 exports translates to roughly $350 for every resident in that country.

Jamaica’s unemployment rate was 12.9% as of September 2016, according to Trading Economics.

Jamaica’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Jamaican global shipments during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Jamaica.

  1. Inorganic chemicals: US$458.3 million (38.1% of total exports)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $174.7 million (14.5%)
  3. Ores, slag, ash: $92.2 million (7.7%)
  4. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $89.9 million (7.5%)
  5. Coffee, tea, spices: $38.1 million (3.2%)
  6. Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $234.7 million (2.9%)
  7. Vegetables: $32.6 million (2.7%)
  8. Miscellaneous food preparations: $28.3 million (2.4%)
  9. Cereal/milk preparations: $20.6 million (1.7%)
  10. Machinery including computers: $19.5 million (1.6%)

Miscellaneous food preparations was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 55.2% for the 7-year period starting in 2009.

In second place for improving export sales was vegetable, fruit or nut preparations which appreciated by 48.6%.

Jamaican machinery including computers posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 39.6%.

Three product categories declined in value from 2009 to 2016: beverages, spirits and vinegar (down -67%), mineral fuels including oil (down -18.3%) and coffee, tea and spices (down -4.6%).


The following types of Jamaican 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 is 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. Inorganic chemicals: US$367.8 million (Up by 33.8% since 2009)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $92.1 million (Up by 8.5%)
  3. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $50.7 million (Up by 3.8%)
  4. Coffee, tea, spices: $29.4 million (Down by -13.1%)
  5. Vegetables: $14.4 million (Up by 844.8%)
  6. Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $5.3 million (Reversing a -$14.2 deficit)
  7. Fruits, nuts: $5.3 million (Up by 66%)
  8. Ships, boats: $4 million (Reversing a -$5.4 million deficit)
  9. Woodpulp: $1 million (Up by 158.2%)
  10. Miscellaneous vegetable plaiting materials: $608,000 (Up by 243.5%)

Jamaica has highly positive net exports in the international trade of inorganic chemicals. In turn, these cashflows indicate Jamaica’s strong competitive advantages under the inorganic chemicals category.


Overall, Jamaica incurred a -$3.6 billion trade deficit for 2016 slightly down from -$3.7 billion during 2009.

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

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$768.5 million (Down by -35.2% since 2009)
  2. Vehicles: -$540 million (Up by 159%)
  3. Machinery including computers: -$379.6 million (Up by 33.8%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$293.7 million (Up by 26.7%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$173.7 million (Up by 15.6%)
  6. Pharmaceuticals: -$145.7 million (Down by -6%)
  7. Cereals: -$139.2 million (Down by -18.8%)
  8. Paper, paper items: -$97.1 million (Down by -17.9%)
  9. Miscellaneous food preparations: -$89.9 million (Up by 168.2%)
  10. Articles of iron or steel: -$88.3 million (Down by -12.4%)

Jamaica has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category, particularly for both refined and crude petroleum oils, petroleum gases and coal.


Jamaican Export Companies

No Jamaican-based corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2016.
Wikipedia does list exports-related companies from Jamaica. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Alpart (aluminum)
  • Desnoes & Geddes (brewery)
  • J. Wray and Nephew Ltd (alcoholic beverages)
  • Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (oil, gas)
  • Port Authority of Jamaica (ports/shipping)

Jamaica’s capital city is Kingston.

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

See also Capital Facts for Kingston, Jamaica, Cuba’s Top 10 Exports and Sugar Exports by Country

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 30, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on October 30, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on October 30, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 30, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Jamaica. Accessed on October 30, 2017

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 30, 2017