Kuwait’s Top 10 Exports

Kuwait's flag

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Kuwait shipped US$46.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016, down by -11% since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in and down by -16.2% from 2015 to 2016. Reductions in value mainly trace back to lower oil prices.

Highly concentrated in mineral fuels-related products, Kuwait’s top 10 exports are 97.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Kuwait’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $301.1 billion in 2016 (on a purchasing power parity basis). Therefore, exports accounted for about 15.4% of total Kuwaiti economic output.

Given Kuwait’s population of 2.8 million people, its total $46.2 billion in 2016 exports translates to roughly $16,300 for every resident in that country.

Kuwait’s unemployment rate was 3% in 2016 according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.

Kuwait’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

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

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$41.5 billion (89.6% of total exports)
  2. Organic chemicals: $1.2 billion (2.5%)
  3. Vehicles : $748.2 million (1.6%)
  4. Plastics, plastic articles: $685.6 million (1.5%)
  5. Machinery including computers: $223.9 million (0.5%)
  6. Fertilizers: $216.7 million (0.5%)
  7. Dairy, eggs, honey: $150.7 million (0.3%)
  8. Gems, precious metals: $129.8 million (0.3%)
  9. Electrical machinery, equipment: $118 million (0.3%)
  10. Articles of iron or steel: $86.1 million (0.2%)

Organic chemicals was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 11,069% for the 7-year period starting in 2009.

In second place for improving export sales was the dairy, eggs and honey category which gained 469%.

Exported Kuwaiti jewelry and gold posted the third-fastest gain in value, up 55.4%.

The three declining top categories were: plastics (down -71.6%), electrical machinery and equipment (down -54.3%) and mineral fuels including oil (down -11.6%).


Overall, Kuwait achieved a $15.4 billion trade surplus for 2016 down -51.9% from $32.1 billion during 2009.

The following types of Kuwaiti 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. Mineral fuels including oil: US$41.3 billion (Down by -11.8% since 2009)
  2. Organic chemicals: $959 million (Down by -594.6%)
  3. Fertilizers: $207.4 million (Up by 9.9%)
  4. Milling products, malt, starches: $27.6 million (Up by 112.9%)
  5. Woodpulp: $8.3 million (Down by -49,212%)
  6. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $1.8 million (Down by -136%)
  7. Aircraft, spacecraft: $1.5 million (Down by -99.6%)

Kuwait has highly positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum oils (both crude and refined) and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Kuwait’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil product category.


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

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$4.3 billion (Up by 40.7% since 2009)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$3.4 billion (Up by 85.9%)
  3. Vehicles : -$3.2 billion (Up by 50%)
  4. Articles of iron or steel: -$1.9 billion (Up by 155%)
  5. Pharmaceuticals: -$1.1 billion (Up by 76.6%)
  6. Gems, precious metals: -$961.4 million (Up by 84.2%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$778.3 million (Up by 81%)
  8. Iron, steel: -$659.7 million (Up by 82.1%)
  9. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: -$617.2 million (Up by 78%)
  10. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$532.2 million (Down by -1.5%)

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


Kuwaiti Export Companies

Four Kuwaiti corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2016.

  • National Bank of Kuwait (financials)
  • Kuwait Finance House (financials)
  • Zain (telecommunications)
  • Kuwait Projects (financials)

Wikipedia also lists exporters from Kuwait. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Afco Aluminium Factory (aluminum)
  • Gulfsat (telecommunications)
  • Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (petroleum)
  • Kuwait National Petroleum Company (petrochemicals)
  • Kuwait Oxygen And Acetylene Company (chemicals)
  • Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (petroleum)
  • Qualitynet (telecommunications)
  • United Fisheries of Kuwait (food)

Kuwait’s capital city is Kuwait City.

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

See also Crude Oil Exports by Country, Perfumes Exporters by Country and Capital Facts for Kuwait City, Kuwait

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 8, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on April 8, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on April 8, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 8, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Kuwait. Accessed on April 8, 2017

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 8, 2017