Jamaica’s Top 10 Exports

Jamaica's flag

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An island country in the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica shipped US$1.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a -16.5% decline since 2013 but a 9% uptick from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Jamaica’s exported goods plus services represent 29.4% of total Jamaican economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continent perspective, 55.3% of Jamaican exports by value were delivered to customers in North America while 23.6% were sold to European importers. Jamaica shipped another 9.7% worth of goods to trade partners in Latin America (other than Mexico) or the Caribbean, with 7.3% of total Jamaican exports going to Asia. Just 2.7% arrived in Africa.

Given Jamaica’s population of 3 million people, its total $1.3 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $440 for every resident in that country.

Jamaica’s unemployment rate was 9.7% as of June 2018, according to Trading Economics.

Jamaica’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level represent the highest dollar value in Jamaican global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Jamaica.

Drilling down to the more detailed 4-digit HTS codes, Jamaica’s most valuable exported goods are aluminum oxide and hydroxide ($517.7 million), refined petroleum oils ($231.5 million), aluminum ores and concentrates ($92.5 million), liquor including liqueurs ($48.1 million), yams/sweet potatoes and artichokes ($35 million), beer ($34.8 million) and coffee ($22.9 million).

  1. Inorganic chemicals: US$518.1 million (39.6% of total exports)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $233.9 million (17.9%)
  3. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $112.8 million (8.6%)
  4. Ores, slag, ash: $92.5 million (7.1%)
  5. Vegetables: $36.6 million (2.8%)
  6. Coffee, tea, spices: $33.6 million (2.6%)
  7. Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $29.9 million (2.3%)
  8. Miscellaneous food preparations: $28.4 million (2.2%)
  9. Cereal/milk preparations: $21.3 million (1.6%)
  10. Sugar, sugar confectionery: $18.6 million (1.4%)

Jamaica’s top 10 exports accounted for 85.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories during 2017, up by 33.9% year over year propelled by accelerating exports of refined petroleum oils.

In second place for improving export sales was beverages, spirits and vinegar which appreciated by 25.4%.

Jamaica’s shipments of inorganic chemicals posted the third-fastest gain in value via a 13% improvement.

Two product categories declined in value from 2016 to 2017: vegetable, fruit or nut preparations (down -13.7%) and coffee, tea and spices (down -11.9%). The latter drop was due to declining international sales of Jamaican coffee.


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 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. Inorganic chemicals: US$392.7 million (Up by 6.8% since 2016)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $92.4 million (Up by 0.4%)
  3. Coffee, tea, spices: $24.1 million (Down by -17.9%)
  4. Vegetables: $18.5 million (Up by 19.6%)
  5. Fruits, nuts: $3.9 million (Down by -25.3%)
  6. Live animals: $1.5 million (Reversing an -$809,000 deficit)
  7. Woodpulp: $1.4 million (Up by 35.7%)
  8. Aircraft, spacecraft: $928,000 (Reversing a -$281,000 deficit)
  9. Zinc: $133,000 (Reversing a -$98,000 deficit)
  10. Vegetable plaiting materials: $105,000 (Down by -82.7%)

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 -$4.5 billion trade deficit for 2017, up by 26.5% from -$3.6 billion in red ink during 2016.

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$1.2 billion (Up by 54.8% since 2016)
  2. Vehicles: -$679 million (Up by 25.7%)
  3. Machinery including computers: -$462.1 million (Up by 21.7%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$283.4 million (Down by -3.5%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$194.4 million (Up by 11.9%)
  6. Pharmaceuticals: -$189.3 million (Up by 30%)
  7. Cereals: -$134.8 million (Down by -3.2%)
  8. Articles of iron or steel: -$107 million (Up by 21.2%)
  9. Paper, paper items: -$103.1 million (Up by 6.2%)
  10. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$100.9 million (Up by 29.7%)

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 and to a lesser degree petroleum gases then coal.


Jamaican Export Companies

No Jamaican-based corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000.
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.

See also Bermuda’s Top 10 Exports, Cuba’s Top 10 Exports and Sugar Exports by Country

Research Sources:
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 19, 2018

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 19, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 19, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 19, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 19, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Jamaica. Accessed on August 19, 2018

Wikipedia, Jamaica. Accessed on August 19, 2018