An Oceanian island group about 3,200 kilometers (1,988.4 miles) northeast of New Zealand, the Independent State of Samoa shipped an estimated US$38 million worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -30.1% decline since 2015 and a -17.7% drop from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data from 2018 shows that 97% 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%), China (1.2%), South Korea (1%) and Germany (0.7%).
Given Samoa’s population of 201,000 people, its total $38 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $190 for every resident in the South Pacific Ocean island group.
Samoa’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Samoan global shipments during 2019. 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 over three-quarters (77.5%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Machinery including computers represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 686.7% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment via a 520.4% gain. Samoa’s shipments of food industry waste and animal fodder posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 485.4%.
The leading decliner among Samoa’s top 10 export categories was fish, thanks to a -87.6% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, fruit and vegetable juices represent Samoa’s most valuable exported product at 10.9% of the country’s total. In second place were inedible meat flour (7.8%), coconut, palm or babassu oil (7.4%), manioc roots, Jerusalem artichokes and sweet potatoes (7.1%), phone system devices including smartphones (5.6%), insulated wire or cable (4.9%), television receivers, monitors and projectors (4.5%), malt beer (4.4%) then frozen whole fish (3%).
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.
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: US$2.3 million (Reversing a -$2.4 million deficit in 2018)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $2 million (Up by 36.2% since 2018)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $1.2 million (Reversing a -$1.3 million deficit)
- Fruits, nuts: $365,000 (Reversing a -$777,000 deficit)
- Umbrellas, walking-sticks: $55,000 (Reversing a -$97,000 deficit)
- Oil seeds: $45,000 (Reversing a -$11,000 deficit)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $9,000 (Reversing a -$15,000 deficit)
Samoa has positive net exports, notably in the international trade under the animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes product category.
Overall Samoa incurred an estimated -$354.7 million product trade deficit for 2019, up by 12% from -$316.8 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$58.5 million (Up by 2.5% since 2018)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$30.9 million (Up by 53%)
- Vehicles: -$23.4 million (Down by -11.1%)
- Iron, steel: -$22.6 million (Up by 300.2%)
- Meat: -$22.1 million (Down by -5.7%)
- Machinery including computers: -$15.4 million (Down by -20.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$13 million (Up by 31.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$12.6 million (Up by 3.8%)
- Other base metal goods: -$12.5 million (Up by 780.7%)
- Ships, boats: -$12.3 million (Up by 7303%)
Samoa has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits notably 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)
In macroeconomic terms, Samoa’s total exported goods represent 3.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($1.237 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 3.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 2.8% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Samoa’s total economic performance albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of economic performance is the unemployment rate. Samoa’s average unemployment rate was 8.359% in 2019 up from 8.32% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.
Samoa’s capital city is Apia.
See also Australia’s Top 10 Exports, New Zealand’s Top 10 Exports and Top Oceanian Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Australia-Oceania: Samoa. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 20, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 20, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Samoa’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Labour, Samoa Company Registry. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Flag of Samoa. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Samoa. Accessed on June 20, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Apia, Samoa. Accessed on June 20, 2020