Officially named the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, Macau’s exports totaled an estimated US$1.45 billion in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 16.6% increase since 2014 but a -1.5% dip from 2017 to 2018.
Given Macau’s population of 606,340 people, its total $1.45 billion in exports during 2018 translates to roughly $2,400 for every person in China’s special administrative region. Macau is located on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong Kong–China’s other special administrative region.
The latest available country-specific data from 2015 shows that 63.3% of products exported from Macau were bought by importers in: Hong Kong (47.9% of the global total), China (12.6%), Japan (1%), Malaysia (0.5%), Taiwan (0.4%), Germany (0.3%), United States (0.3%), France (0.2%), United Kingdom (0.1%), Philippines (0.1%), Italy (0.1%) and Vietnam (also 0.1%).
In macroeconomic terms, Macau’s total exported goods represent 1.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($77.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 1.9% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 1.8% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Macau’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Macau also provided $43.6 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 56.4% of GDP in PPP. These metrics include a significant amount of re-exporting activity.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Macau’s unemployment rate was 1.7% at May 2019 down from 1.8% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.
Macau’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Macau’s global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Macau.
- Clocks, watches including parts: US$250.4 million (17.3% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $194.3 million (13.4%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $177.6 million (12.3%)
- Copper: $61.4 million (4.2%)
- Machinery including computers: $53.3 million (3.7%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $48.2 million (3.3%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $47.6 million (3.3%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $46.6 million (3.2%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $46.3 million (3.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $46.2 million (3.2%)
Macau’s top 10 exports accounted for roughly two-thirds (67.2%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Perfumes and cosmetics was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 125.8% since 2017.
In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment thanks to a 61.4% rise.
Macau’s shipments of clocks, watches including parts posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 11.2%.
The leading decliner among the top 10 Macau export categories was unknitted and non-crocheted clothing and accessories thanks to a -19.8% drop.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, wrist and pocket watches with precious metal casing represent Macau’s most valuable exported product at 13.8% of the country’s total. In second place was jewelry (12.9%) trailed by phone system devices including smartphones (8.7%), copper foil (3.5%), cigars and cigarettes (3.3%), wrist/pocket watches without precious metal casing (3%), cases, handbags and wallets (2.7%), table games and bowling equipment (2.6%), beauty, makeup and skin care preparations (2.5%) then orthopedic appliances (2.2%).
The following types of Macau’s 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.
- Copper: US$36.6 million (Down by -19.1% since 2017)
- Other base metals: $23,000 (Reversing a -$114,000 deficit)
Macau has positive net exports in the international trade of copper and miscellaneous base metals. In turn, these cashflows indicate Macau’s competitive advantages under these categories.
Overall Macau incurred an estimated -$11 billion trade deficit in 2018, up by 16.5% from -$9.5 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Macau that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on Macau’s goods trail importer spending on foreign products.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$1.1 billion (Up by 22.7% since 2017)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$903.8 million (Up by 25%)
- Machinery including computers: -$728.1 million (Up by 31.1%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: -$696.7 million (Up by 35.7%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: -$620.3 million (Up by 30.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$603.9 million (Up by 17%)
- Clocks, watches including parts: -$550.7 million (Up by 35.4%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$407.8 million (Up by 55.9%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$371 million (Up by 35.1%)
- Vehicles: -$341 million (Up by 25.8%)
Macau has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for electrical machinery and equipment, notably for mobile phones and insulated wire or cable.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Macau’s competitive disadvantages in the international mineral fuels-related market, but also represent key opportunities for Macau to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Macau Export Companies
According to global trading platform Alibaba, the following companies are examples of leading export companies located in Macau.
- Black Sea PVT (LCD monitors)
- Hoplun (swimwear, underwear)
- Lee’s Handicraft Co. Ltd (baskets)
- Signal International (solar products)
- Union Technology International (recycled printer parts, supplies)
- Yiu Heng International Trading Company Ltd (stainless steel kitchenware)
See also China’s Top 10 Exports, Hong Kong’s Top 10 Exports and Taiwan’s Top 10 Exports
Alibaba.com supplier profiles for Macau. Accessed on June 28, 2018
The World Factbook, Macau, Field Listing: Exports and World Population, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on July 11, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on July 11, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 11, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 11, 2019