Madagascar’s Top 10 Exports

Madagascar’s Top 10 Exports


An island country in the Indian Ocean located off East Africa’s coast, Madagascar shipped US$3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 33.7% gain since 2014 and a 5.3% sales uptick from 2017 to 2018.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Madagascar’s exported goods plus services represent 31.5% of total Malagasy economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, $1.2 billion or 40.3% of Malagasy exports by value were delivered to European countries while 27.7% were sold to Asian importers. Madagascar shipped another 23.1% worth of goods to North America with another 8% going to fellow African countries.

Given Madagascar’s population of 25.7 million people, its total $3 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $120 for every resident in the East African island.

Madagascar’s unemployment rate was forecast to be 2% as of January 2019, according to Trading Economics.

Madagascar’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Malagasy global shipments during 2018 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.

Drilling down to the more detailed 4-digit HTS codes, Madagascar’s most valuable exported goods are the spice vanilla ($855.4 million), unwrought nickel ($427.2 million), cobalt ($226.2 million), cloves ($149 million) then knitted or crocheted jerseys, pullovers and overcoats ($131.1 million), crustaceans including lobsters ($99.6 million) and gold ($91.8 million).

  1. Coffee, tea, spices: US$1 billion (34.2% of total exports)
  2. Nickel: $427.7 million (14.3%)
  3. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $267.7 million (8.9%)
  4. Other base metals: $226.2 million (7.5%)
  5. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $219.3 million (7.3%)
  6. Gems, precious metals: $123.8 million (4.1%)
  7. Fish: $114.2 million (3.8%)
  8. Ores, slag, ash: $89.2 million (3%)
  9. Perfumes, cosmetics: $71.9 million (2.4%)
  10. Mineral fuels including oil: $51.5 million (1.7%)

Madagascar’s top 10 exports accounted for 87.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Perfumes and cosmetics was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories via its 60.1% rise in value from 2017 to 2018.

In second place were miscellaneous base metals which rose 48.9% in value thanks to blossoming cobalt exports.

Madagascar’s exported nickel appreciated by 25.4% year over year.

Leading the decliners were fish (down -18.7%) and ores, slag and ash (down -20.8%), the latter category weighed down by falling international sales of titanium and chromium.


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$1 billion (Up by 7.2% since 2017)
  2. Nickel: $427 million (Up by 26.2%)
  3. Other base metals: $225.3 million (Up by 49.1%)
  4. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $218.9 million (Down by -17.5%)
  5. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $203.7 million (Down by -9.4%)
  6. Gems, precious metals: $123.4 million (Up by 12.7%)
  7. Fish: $102.9 million (Down by -11.1%)
  8. Ores, slag, ash: $88.4 million (Down by -19.6%)
  9. Perfumes, cosmetics: $47.4 million (Up by 130.8%)
  10. Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $37.5 million (Down by -5.8%)

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 -$928.5 million trade deficit for 2018, expanding by 15% from the -$807.5 million shortfall during 2017.

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.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$630.5 million (Up by 28.1% since 2017)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$301.5 million (Up by 3.8%)
  3. Cereals: -$246.3 million (Down by -3.4%)
  4. Vehicles: -$243.9 million (Down by -16.6%)
  5. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$195.3 million (Up by 10.7%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: -$127.9 million (Up by 8%)
  7. Pharmaceuticals: -$123.2 million (Up by 21.4%)
  8. Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: -$118.5 million (Up by 10.5%)
  9. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$114.1 million (Down by -17.7%)
  10. Wool: -$111.8 million (Up by 13.9%)

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)

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

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on January 22, 2019

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on January 22, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on January 22, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on January 22, 2019

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Madagascar. Accessed on January 22, 2019

Wikipedia, Madagascar. Accessed on January 22, 2019

Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on January 22, 2019