A country in western South America bordered to its east by Brazil, the Republic of Peru shipped US$47.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 22.2% surge since 2014 and a 7.3% gain from 2017 to 2018.
From a continental perspective, 46.2% of Peruvian exports by value was delivered to Asian countries. Another 19.8% was sold to importers in Europe while 19.5% worth arrived in North America with 13% bought by fellow Latin American nations excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Smaller percentages were exported to Africa and Oceania, both at 0.5% of Peru’s total export sales.
Given Peru’s population of 31.3 million people, its total $47.2 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $1,500 for every resident in the South American nation.
In macroeconomic terms, Peru’s total exported goods represent 10.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($457.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 10.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 12.6% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Peru’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Peru also provided $7.4 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 1.6% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Peru’s unemployment rate was 6.7% at May 2019 up from 6.2% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.
Peru’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Peruvian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Peru.
- Ores, slag, ash: US$17.6 billion (37.4% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $7.3 billion (15.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $4.2 billion (8.9%)
- Fruits, nuts: $3 billion (6.3%)
- Copper: $2.3 billion (4.9%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $1.8 billion (3.9%)
- Fish: $951.3 million (2%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $894 million (1.9%)
- Zinc: $841.9 million (1.8%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $795.5 million (1.7%)
By value, Peru’s top 10 exports accounted for over four-fifths (84.2%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Fruits and nuts was the fastest-growing among Peru’s top 10 export categories, up 25% from 2017 to 2018.
The second-fastest growing category was mineral fuels including oil which rose 19.1% propelled by higher international revenues from both crude and refined petroleum oils, petroleum gas and coal.
Peruvian exports of fish also posted a 19.9% year-over-year improvement.
There were two declining top product categories: coffee, tea and spices (mostly coffee) which fell in value by -5.2% and the gems and precious metals category which retreated -1% weighed down by thinning revenue for gold and silver.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Peru’s number one exported product was copper ores and concentrates (27.2% of total). In second place was gold (14.7%), refined petroleum oils (6.2%), zinc (4.6%) then refined copper and unwrought alloys (3.9%).
Overall Peru generated a $4.1 billion trade surplus in 2018, down -5.4% from $4.3 billion in black ink for the prior year.
The following types of Peruvian 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.
- Ores, slag, ash: US$17.5 billion (Up by 6.5% since 2017)
- Gems, precious metals: $7.3 billion (Down by -1.1%)
- Fruits, nuts: $2.9 billion (Up by 26.3%)
- Copper: $2.2 billion (Up by 6.6%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $1.1 billion (Up by 0.2%)
- Zinc: $835.5 million (Up by 4.3%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $752.8 million (Down by -5.8%)
- Fish: $719 million (Up by 22.1%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $554.1 million (Up by 5.4%)
- Vegetables: $543.2 million (Up by 2.9%)
Peru has highly positive net exports in the international trade of raw materials such as copper, zinc and lead. In turn, these cashflows indicate Peru’s strong competitive advantages under the ores, slag and ash product category. Peru also posted a healthy surplus in the trade of gold.
Below are exports from Peru that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Peru’s goods trail Peruvian importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$5 billion (Up by 4.4% since 2017)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$4.1 billion (Down by -2.5%)
- Vehicles: -$3.6 billion (Down by -4.3%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$2.7 billion (Up by 28.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.7 billion (Up by 20%)
- Iron, steel: -$1.6 billion (Up by 36%)
- Cereals: -$1.3 billion (Down by -0.4%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$873.2 million (Up by 8.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$817.8 million (Up by 12.7%)
- Other chemical goods: -$751.1 million (Down by -4.7%)
Peru has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery notably computers and heavy machinery including bulldozers and excavators.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Peru’s competitive disadvantages in the international market for machinery-related products, but also represent key opportunities for Peru to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Peruvian Export Companies
Peru had only one company on Forbes Global 2000 rankings, a regional bank named Credicorp.
Wikipedia lists the following the following Peruvian companies, which are involved in global trade.
- Coporación Aceros Arequipa (steel products)
- Ferreyros (industrial, construction machinery)
- Maple Energy (oil)
- Peru LNG (natural gas)
- Petroperú (petroleum)
- Backus and Johnston (brewery)
Peru’s capital city is Lima.
See also Peru’s Top Trading Partners and Top South American Export Countries
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 28, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 29, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 28, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Peru. Accessed on March 28, 2019
Wikipedia, Peru. Accessed on March 28, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 29, 2019