An Oceanian island group about 3,200 kilometers (1,988.4 miles) northeast of New Zealand, the Independent State of Samoa shipped US$46.1 million worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -9.5% decline since 2014 but a 3.8% increase from 2017 to 2018.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 95.3% of products exported from Samoa were bought by importers in: United States Minor Outlying Islands (26.7% of the global total), New Zealand (17.7%), Tokelau (13.8%), Australia (10.8%), United States (9.7%), Taiwan (7.3%), Fiji (3.6%), Japan (3.4%), Singapore (1.3%) and China (1.2%).
Given Samoa’s population of 201,306 people, its total $46.1 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $230 for every resident in the South Pacific Ocean island group.
In macroeconomic terms, Samoa’s total exported goods represent 2.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($1.17 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 2.8% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 3.4% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Samoa’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Samoa also provided $212.9 million worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 18.1% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of economic performance is the unemployment rate. Samoa’s unemployment rate was 8.33% in 2018 up from 8.32% one year earlier, according to Statistica.
Samoa’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Samoan global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Samoa.
- Fish: US$13.1 million (28.4% of total exports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $11.9 million (25.7%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $4 million (8.6%)
- Vegetables: $2.9 million (6.2%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $2.8 million (6.2%)
- Meat: $1.9 million (4.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.4 million (3.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.3 million (2.7%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $877,000 (1.9%)
- Fruits, nuts: $758,000 (1.6%)
Samoa’s top 10 export categories account for 88.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Meat was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 571.7% since 2017.
In second place for improving export sales was plastics and plastic articles, thanks to a 223.2% increase.
Samoa’s shipments of vegetable, fruit or nut preparations posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 130.4%.
The leading decliner among Samoa ‘s top 10 export categories was the electrical machinery and equipment category, via a -63.7% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, processed petroleum oils represent Samoa’s most valuable exported product at 25.5% of the country’s total. In second place was frozen whole fish (23.8%) trailed by fruit and vegetable juices (8.4%), manioc roots, Jerusalem artichokes and sweet potatoes (5.9%), malt beer (5.8%), fish fillets and pieces (4%), poultry meat (3.3%), miscellaneous plastic items (2.8%), coconut, palm or babassu oil (1.8%) then coconuts, brazil nuts and cashews (1.4%).
The following types of Samoan 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.
- Fish: US$11.1 million (Down by -5.1% since 2017)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $1.4 million (Reversing a -$156,000 deficit)
- Gems, precious metals: $231,000 (Up by 69.9%)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $2,000 (No 2017 data)
Samoa has positive net exports, notably in the international trade of fish. In turn, these cashflows indicate Samoa’s strong competitive advantages under the fish product category.
Overall Samoa incurred a -$316.8 million product trade deficit for 2018, up by 1.6% from -$311.8 million in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Samoa that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Samoa’s goods trail Samoan importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$57.1 million (Up by 29.4% since 2017)
- Vehicles: -$26.4 million (Up by 13.8%)
- Meat: -$23.4 million (Down by -12.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$20.2 million (Down by -10.8%)
- Machinery including computers: -$19.4 million (Up by 0.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$12.2 million (Down by -19.1%)
- Wood: -$11.9 million (Down by -0.2%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$11.1 million (Up by 2.7%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: -$11.1 million (Up by 10.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$9.9 million (Down by -9.9%)
Samoa has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits particularly for refined petroleum oils and petroleum gas under the mineral fuels-related category.
Samoan Export Companies
Not one Samoan corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
The registered companies listing maintained by Samoa’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Labour records exports-related companies from Samoa. Selected examples are shown below:
- APIA Export Fisheries Ltd (fishing, aquaculture)
- CJ Exports & Imports Ltd (furniture)
- Health Seafood Export Limited (fishing, aquaculture)
- Maiden Agricultural Trade & Export (food product manufacturer)
- Samoa Export Co Ltd (agriculture, fishing)
- Sea & Lagoon Export Ltd (fishing, aquaculture)
Samoa’s capital city is Apia.
See also Australia’s Top 10 Exports, New Zealand’s Top 10 Exports and Top Oceanian Export Countries
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 10, 2018
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 22, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 22, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 10, 2018
Samoa’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Labour, Samoa Company Registry. Accessed on September 10, 2018
Statistica, Samoa: Unemployment rate from 2008 to 2018. Accessed on July 22, 2019
The World Factbook, Australia-Oceania: Samoa. Accessed on September 10, 2018
Wikipedia, Flag of Samoa. Accessed on September 10, 2018
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 22, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 22, 2019
Wikipedia, Samoa. Accessed on September 10, 2018
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Apia, Samoa. Accessed on September 10, 2018