A Balkan country in southeastern Europe, the Republic of North Macedonia shipped US$7.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 60% increase since 2015 and a 4% gain from 2018 to 2019.
Resolving a dispute with Greece over its name, “Macedonia” was renamed as the Republic of North Macedonia effective February 1, 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Macedonian denar appreciated by 1.1% against the US dollar since 2015 but declined by -5.5% from 2018 to 2019. North Macedonia’s weaker local currency since 2019 makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers during 2019.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 83.5% of products exported from North Macedonia were bought by importers in: Germany (48.7% of the global total), Serbia (8.5%), Bulgaria (4.9%), Belgium (3.3%), Italy (2.7%), Greece (2.7%), Hungary (2.6%), Romania (2.4%), China (2.3%), United Kingdom (2.2%), Netherlands (1.6%) and Spain (1.5%).
From a continental perspective, 93.8% of North Macedonia’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 4.5% were sold to importers in Asia. North Macedonia shipped another 1% worth of goods to North America. Tinier percentages went to Africa (0.4%), Latin America (0.1%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean then Oceania (0.1%) led by Australia.
Given North Macedonia’s population of 2.1 million people, its total $7.2 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $3,400 for every resident in the southeastern European nation.
North Macedonia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in North Macedonian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from North Macedonia.
- Other chemical goods: US$1.5 billion (21% of total exports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.1 billion (15.1%)
- Machinery including computers: $899.9 million (12.5%)
- Iron, steel: $552.2 million (7.7%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $377.9 million (5.3%)
- Vehicles: $356.4 million (5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $314.3 million (4.4%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $219 million (3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $194.7 million (2.7%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $160.8 million (2.2%)
North Macedonia’s top 10 exports accounted for almost four-fifths (78.9%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Machinery including computers represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 12.7% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was iron and steel via a 11.6% gain. Up by up by 8.4%, North Macedonia’s shipments under the furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefabricated buildings category posted the third-fastest gain in value.
The leading decliner among North Macedonia’s top 10 export categories was articles made from iron or steel, thanks to a -25% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, North Macedonia’s most valuable export goods are catalytic devices (20.9% of the global total), centrifuges, filters and purifiers (11.2%), insulated wire or cable (8.9%), chairs (3.6%), iron ferroalloys (3%), public-transport vehicles (2.6%) then electrical and optical circuit boards or panels (2.3%).
The following types of North Macedonian 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.
- Other chemical goods: US$1.3 billion (Up by 5.3% since 2018)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $323.4 million (Down by -11.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $286.7 million (Up by 35.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $200.8 million (Up by 5%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $120.4 million (Up by 17.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $96.9 million (Up by 254.5%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $80.6 million (Down by -44.2%)
- Vegetables: $58.6 million (Up by 29.2%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $58.5 million (Down by -15.8%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $58 million (Up by 1.7%)
North Macedonia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of miscellaneous chemical products. In turn, these cashflows indicate North Macedonia’s strong competitive advantages under the category named other chemical goods.
Overall, North Macedonia incurred a -$2.3 billion trade deficit for 2019 up 6.5% from -$2.1 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from North Macedonia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country North Macedonia’s goods trail North Macedonian importer spending on foreign products.
- Gems, precious metals: -US$1.3 billion (Up by 23.7% since 2018)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$822.4 million (Up by 2.7%)
- Ceramic products: -$458.7 million (Up by 10.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$264.1 million (Up by 0.4%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$159.1 million (Up by 81.3%)
- Meat: -$120.2 million (Up by 0.7%)
- Coated/laminated textile fabric: -$104.1 million (Up by 2%)
- Paper, paper items: -$97.4 million (Down by -5.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$94 million (Down by -14.5%)
- Wood: -$85.3 million (Down by -2.6%)
Notably, North Macedonia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for platinum under the gems and precious metals category. Platinum is a key component used in catalytic converters and similar devices.
North Macedonian Export Companies
Not one North Macedonian corporation ranks among the companies on the Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists export-related businesses from North Macedonia. Selected examples are shown below:
- Aktiva (steel)
- Alkaloid (pharmaceuticals)
- FAS Sanos (commercial vehicles, trucks)
- Makpetrol (oil, gas)
- OKTA (oil, gas)
- ONE.VIP (mobile telecommunications)
- Teteks (textiles, clothing)
- Tutunski kombinat Prilep (tobacco)
In macroeconomic terms, North Macedonia’s total exported goods represent 21% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($34.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 21% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 21.2% one year earlier. This seems to indicate a slightly decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for North Macedonia’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. North Macedonia’s average unemployment rate was 17.927% for 2019 down from 20.725% in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.
North Macedonia’s capital city is Skopje, the birthplace for Mother Teresa.
See also Bulgaria’s Top Trading Partners, United Kingdom’s Top Trading Partners and Capital Facts for Skopje, North Macedonia
Central Intelligence Agency, Country Profiles, The World Factbook. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 3, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 3, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 3, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of North Macedonia. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, North Macedonia. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 3, 2020