An island country in the Indian Ocean located off East Africa’s coast, Madagascar shipped US$2.6 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 18.4% gain since 2015 but a -14.5% downturn from 2018 to 2019.
From a continental perspective, $1 billion or 39.1% of Malagasy exports by value were delivered to European countries while 29.6% were sold to importers in Asia. Madagascar shipped another 22.9% worth of goods to North America. Another 7.8% went to fellow African countries, 0.4% to Oceania led by Australia, then 0.1% to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Given Madagascar’s population of 27.1 million people, its total $2.6 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $100 for every resident in the East African island.
Madagascar’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Malagasy global shipments during 2019 at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Madagascar.
- Coffee, tea, spices: US$666.3 million (26% of total exports)
- Nickel: $450.2 million (17.6%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $268.3 million (10.5%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $216.6 million (8.4%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $129.8 million (5.1%)
- Gems, precious metals: $116.7 million (4.6%)
- Fish: $114.4 million (4.5%)
- Other base metals: $103 million (4%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $60.7 million (2.4%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $54.9 million (2.1%)
Madagascar’s top 10 exports accounted for 85.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag, ash: was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 45.5% year over year since 2018. In second place for improving export sales was mineral fuels including oil which was up by 6.6% led by refined petroleum. Madagascar’s shipments of nickel: posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 5.3% year over year.
The leading decliner among Madagascar’s top 10 export categories was other base metals thanks to its -54.5% drop.
Drilling down to the more detailed 4-digit HTS codes, Madagascar’s most valuable exported goods are the spice vanilla (22.5% of total), unwrought nickel (5.4%), cobalt (4%), crustaceans including lobsters (3.8%) and gold (3.3%).
The following types of Malagasy 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. Coffee, tea, spices: US$663.5 million (49.8% of total exports)
2. Nickel: $449.8 million (33.7%)
3. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $222.6 million (16.7%)
4. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $203.8 million (15.3%)
5. Ores, slag, ash: $129.5 million (9.7%)
6. Gems, precious metals: $116.3 million (8.7%)
7. Other base metals: $102 million (7.7%)
8. Fish:$87.3 million (6.6%)
9. Gums, resins, other vegetable saps:$35.3 million (2.7%)
10. Perfumes, cosmetics: $33.8 million (2.5%)
Madagascar has highly positive net exports in the international trade of coffee and spices (particularly vanilla). These surplus cashflows indicate Madagascar’s strong competitive advantages under the coffee and spices category.
Overall Madagascar incurred a -$1.3 billion trade deficit for 2019, expanding by 43.5% from the -$928.5 million in red ink during 2018.
Below are exports from Madagascar that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Madagascar’s goods trail Malagasy importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$630.4 million (Down by -03% since 2018)
- Vehicles: -$280.6 million (Up by 15%)
- Machinery including computers: -$278.6 million (Down by -7.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$178.2 million (Down by -8.8%)
- Cereals: -$164.2 million (Down by -33.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$146 million (Up by 18.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$130.6 million (Up by 2.2%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$115 million (Up by 0.8%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: -$112.7 million (Down by -4.9%)
- Wool: -$100.6 million (Down by -10%)
Madagascar has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related products, notably refined petroleum oils.
Malagasy Export Companies
Not one Malagasy corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists companies based in Madagascar. Selected examples are shown below:
- Air Madagascar (international/domestic airliner)
- Karenjy (automobiles)
- Madacom (telecommunications, internet services)
- Madagascar Oil (oil, gas)
- Madarail (national railways)
In macroeconomic terms, Madagascar’s total exported goods represent 5.6% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($46 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 5.6% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 7% for 2018, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Madagascar’s total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Madagascar’s unemployment rate was forecast to be 2% at July 2019, according to Trading Economics.
Madagascar’s capital city is Antananarivo.
See also Madagascar’s Top Trading Partners, Top African Export Countries, Madagascar’s Top 10 Imports and Seychelles Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on January 27, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on January 27, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 4, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on January 27, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on January 27, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on January 27, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Madagascar. Accessed on January 27, 2020
Wikipedia, Madagascar. Accessed on January 27, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on January 27, 2020