Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Exports

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Situated on the Arabian Peninsula within Western Asia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shipped US$220.1 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a 23% gain from 2016 to 2017 but a -41.4% setback since 2013.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Saudi exported goods plus services represent 35.6% of total Saudi Arabian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

Given Saudi Arabia’s population of 28.6 million people, its total $220.1 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $7,700 for every resident in that country.

Saudi Arabia’s unemployment rate was 6% as of December 2017 up from 5.6% in December 2015 according to Trading Economics.

Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Saudi global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Saudi Arabia.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$170.2 billion (77.4% of total exports)
  2. Plastics, plastic articles: $17 billion (7.7%)
  3. Organic chemicals: $9.8 billion (4.4%)
  4. Ships, boats: $2.2 billion (1%)
  5. Aluminum: $2.1 billion (1%)
  6. Vehicles: $1.6 billion (0.7%)
  7. Machinery including computers: $1.6 billion (0.7%)
  8. Dairy, eggs, honey: $1.1 billion (0.5%)
  9. Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.1 billion (0.5%)
  10. Gems, precious metals: $934.8 million (0.4%)

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Saudi Arabia’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.

Saudi Arabia’s top 10 exports are concentrated notably centered on petroleum-related products. The top 10 exported goods accounted for 94.4% of the overall value of Saudi’s global shipments.

Vehicles were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 49% in value from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving export sales were organic chemicals which rose 28.3%.

Spearheaded by accelerated earnings for both refined and crude petroleum oils, mineral fuels-related products posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 26.1%.

Saudi shipments of gems and precious metals led the decliners via a -8.2% drop. This deceleration was principally due to slower international sales of gold from Saudi Arabia in 2017 compared to 2016.

Advantages

Overall Saudi Arabia earned a $93.3 billion surplus in 2017, up by 90.1% from $99.4 billion during 2009.

The following types of Saudi 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. Mineral fuels including oil: US$167.5 billion (Up by 24.8% since 2016)
  2. Plastics, plastic articles: $14.1 billion (Up by 22.9%)
  3. Organic chemicals: $7.8 billion (Up by 27.9%)
  4. Ships, boats: $988.6 million (Down by -34.5%)
  5. Fertilizers: $842.4 million (Up by 6.8%)
  6. Aluminum: $801.4 million (Up by 44.3%)
  7. Collector items, art, antiques: $114.9 million (Up by 403%)
  8. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $73.1 million (Up by 27.7%)
  9. Lead: $23 million (Up by 264.6%)
  10. Nickel: $1.7 million (Down by -79%)

Saudi Arabia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum, first and foremost crude oil but also refined oils and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Saudi Arabia’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil category.

Opportunities

Below are exports from Saudi Arabia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Saudi Arabia’s goods trail Saudi importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$14.9 billion (Down by -8.4% since 2016)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$13.2 billion (Down by -0.8%)
  3. Vehicles: -$11.3 billion (Down by -32.3%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: -$4.7 billion (Up by 9.9%)
  5. Articles of iron or steel: -$3.4 billion (Down by -2.2%)
  6. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$2.6 billion (Down by -1.9%)
  7. Cereals: -$2.6 billion (Up by 24.7%)
  8. Gems, precious metals: -$2.5 billion (Up by 31.5%)
  9. Iron, steel: -$2.03 billion (Down by -28.9%)
  10. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$1.97 billion (Down by -2.2%)

Saudi Arabia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery, particularly piping products and computers.

Companies

Saudi Export Companies

Twenty Saudi corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. The following companies are selected examples of leading companies headquartered in Saudi Arabia:

  • Saudi Basic Industries (diversified chemicals)
  • Saudi Arabian Fertilizers (specialized chemicals)
  • Savola Group (food processing)
  • Saudi Arabian Mining (diversified metals, mining)
  • Petro Rabigh (diversified chemicals)

Wikipedia also lists exporters from Saudi Arabia. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Saudi Aramco (oil, gas)
  • Saudi Basic Industries (diversified chemicals)
  • Saudi Arabian Fertilizers (specialized chemicals)
  • Savola Group (food processing)
  • Saudi Arabian Mining (diversified metals)
  • Petro Rabigh (diversified chemicals)
  • Almarai (food processing)
  • Tasnee (petrochemicals)

According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following firms represent smaller exporters from Saudi Arabia:

  • Al Abeiry PVC Hose Factory (tubes/pipes/hoses, building/monument granite, furniture)
  • Batook Chewing Gum Industries (turpentine oils, menthol, wines)
  • Saudi Aramco Oil (petroleum)
  • Saudi Basic Industries (acyclic hydrocarbons, polyethylene)
  • Yamama Granite Marble (building/monument granite, wooden boxes/cases/crates)


 

Searchable List of Saudi Arabia’s Most Valuable Export Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the most valuable export products are crude oil followed by refined petroleum oils then the chemicals ethylene polymers.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Saudi Arabia during 2017. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2016.

RankSaudi Arabian Export Product2017 Value (US$)Change
1Crude oil$133.6 billion+19.3%
2Processed petroleum oils$31.7 billion+69.3%
3Ethylene polymers$9.6 billion+19%
4Propylene/olefin polymers$5.1 billion+15.3%
5Petroleum gases$4.9 billion+14.5%
6Ethers$4.3 billion+32.5%
7Acyclic alcohols$1.9 billion+39.8%
8Cyclic hydrocarbons$1.5 billion-1.6%
9Aluminum (unwrought)$1.2 billion+6.7%
10Cars$1.2 billion+61.2%
11Tugboats, pusher craft$1.2 billion-33.9%
12Nitrogenous fertilizers$906.1 million+4.5%
13Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$733.8 million+52.3%
14Acyclic hydrocarbons$561.2 million+3.5%
15Gold (unwrought)$538 million-26.4%
16Warships, lifeboats$507 million+220.6%
17Copper waste, scrap$473 million+26.4%
18Insulated wire/cable$401.6 million-10.2%
19Jewelry$391.2 million+41%
20Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$383.3 million-10.1%
21Other organic cleaning preparations$361.3 million+0.7%
22Fruit and vegetable juices$337.9 million-8.4%
23Medication mixes in dosage$326.6 million+10.5%
24Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$324.6 million-4.2%
25Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$313.4 million+45.5%
26Saturated acyclic mono acids$311.8 million-13.6%
27Other nitrogen compounds$309.1 million+1,471,657%
28Aircraft parts$305.7 million-10.4%
29Aluminum waste, scrap$302.3 million+22.8%
30Cruise/cargo ships, barges$286.8 million+89.5%
31Cheese, curd$283.6 million+8%
32Styrene polymers$273.9 million+53.4%
33Ammonia$273.4 million-47.9%
34Turbo-jets$268.8 million+19.3%
35Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$259.2 million+410.9%
36Buttermilk, yogurt$255.7 million-13.3%
37Amino-compounds (oxygen)$251.8 million+226.4%
38Crustaceans (including lobsters)$240.1 million+132.8%
39Mixed alkylbenzenes, alkylnaphthalenes$239.5 million+18.4%
40Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks$231.3 million-5%
41Sodium/potash hydroxide, peroxide$213.1 million+2.5%
42Paper containers, cellulose wadding$209.9 million-17.9%
43Other coloring matter, luminophores$203 million+36.2%
44Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners$196 million-4.5%
45Vinyl chloride polymers$194.4 million+30.4%
46Dates/figs/pineapples/mangoes/avocadoes/guavas$193.9 million+30.1%
47Machinery parts$191 million-19.9%
48Unsaturated acyclic mono acids$190.1 million+74.4%
49Phone system devices including smartphones $183.9 million+0.7%
50Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream$182.1 million-46.6%
51Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$178.4 million+13.7%
52Copper ores, concentrates$177.4 million+55.8%
53Cane/beet sugar, chemically pure sucrose$177 million-9.4%
54Survey/hydro/weather instruments$167.8 million+64%
55Trucks$165.8 million+93.2%
56Aircraft launch gear, ground fly trainer$159.7 million+4.7%
57Aluminum containers$159.5 million-11.9%
58Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$157.1 million+8.5%
59Soap, surface-active products$154.3 million-7.7%
60Synthetic rubber$153.9 million+442.6%
61Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$153.7 million+183.9%
62Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)$150 million-12.2%
63Iron or steel tubes, pipes$145.3 million+35.5%
64Poultry meat$138.6 million-6.2%
65Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$134.7 million-30.2%
66Amine-function compounds$127.3 million+36.1%
67Aluminum bars/rods$121 million-9.3%
68Hair preparations$117.1 million-29.3%
69Piston engines$115.5 million-11.9%
70Work trucks$110.9 million-15.7%
71Derricks, cranes$110.1 million+4.4%
72Tissues, napkins, toilet paper$108.2 million+0.6%
73Coated/laminated non-wovens$106 million+20.4%
74Pasta, couscous$105.6 million+7.4%
75Stoppers, caps, lids, crown corks$105.3 million-5.2%
76Medication mixes not in dosage$105.1 million-44.2%
77Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$103.6 million-8.8%
78Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps$99.3 million-36.5%
79Hydrocarbon derivatives$94.3 million-15.4%
80Iron or steel pipe fittings$91.4 million-5.8%
81Sulphur$88.2 million+584.1%
82Asphalt articles including coal tar pitch$85.6 million-19.7%
83Perfumes, toilet waters$81 million+26.6%
84Air conditioners$80.1 million-37%
85Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$77.5 million+24.3%
86Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)$76.4 million+18.8%
87Glass fibers$75.9 million+66.4%
88Electrical converters/power units$75.6 million+10%
89Move/grade/scrape/boring machinery$71.4 million+13.9%
90Electric storage batteries$70.5 million-13.2%
91Sculptures, statues$66.3 million+150,475%
92Float/ground/polished glass in sheets$65.5 million+9.2%
93Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$64.9 million+50.7%
94Ketones, quinones$64.7 million+147.2%
95Acrylic polymers$64 million+8.2%
96Paper/paperboard waste, scrap$63.7 million+99.4%
97Electric ignition/start equipment$60.8 million+252.4%
98Fixed vegetable fats/oils$60.4 million-18.8%
99Liquid pumps and elevators$59.6 million-28.7%
100Special purpose vehicles$56.1 million+234.8%
101Zoological/botanic/historic collectibles$55.8 million+0.2%
102Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$55.3 million-17.3%
103Uncoated paper$55.1 million-20.3%
104#N/A$54.9 million+47.8%
105Sheep/lamb skin leather$53.9 million+11%
106Iron ferroalloys$53 million+853.3%
107Textile floor coverings, carpets (not tufted/flocked)$52.1 million+2.4%
108Iron and steel tubes, pipes$51.9 million-60.2%
109Chemical industry products/residuals$51.6 million+25.2%
110Miscellaneous iron or steel items$50.5 million-24.2%
111Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$50.1 million+22.1%
112Uncombed synthetic staple fibers$48.4 million+29.9%
113Air or vacuum pumps$48.3 million+141.7%
114Miscellaneous furniture$47.1 million+24.2%
115Animal/vegetable hydrogenated fats, oils$47 million+54.3%
116Trailers$45.3 million-11%
117Stainless steel bars, rods$44.9 million+1,322%
118Iron/steel tanks, casks, drums, cans, boxes$44.9 million-4.8%
119Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry$44.8 million-50%
120Phenols/phenol-alcohols$44.7 million+78.3%
121Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$43.8 million+43.5%
122Stainless steel wire in coils$42.4 million+112.9%
123Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes$42.2 million+9.5%
124Cyclic alcohols$41.6 million-21.3%
125Finishing agents, dye carriers, fixers$41.4 million+45.2%
126Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)$40.2 million+9.6%
127Taps, valves, similar appliances$40.1 million-13%
128Cellulose fiber paper$39.6 million-21.7%
129Lead (unwrought)$39.5 million+250.7%
130Copper wire$39.2 million+616.1%
131Integrated circuits/microassemblies$38.7 million+55.5%
132Plaster articles$38.6 million+25.1%
133Paint/varnish aqueous solution$38.6 million-5%
134Live sheep, goats$38.2 million+160%
135Tufted carpets/textile floor coverings$38.2 million+22.3%
136Drawn/blown glass in sheets$37.9 million-6.2%
137Piston engine parts$37.8 million+9.1%
138Titanium oxide$37.5 million+60.2%
139Sulfur excluding sublimed/precipitated/colloidal)$37.3 million+122.8%
140Miscellaneous/adhesive paper$37.3 million+6.6%
141Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections$36.8 million+39.6%
142Concrete/artificial stone items$36.4 million+125.2%
143Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$36 million+195.4%
144Interchangeable hand/machine tools$35.6 million+134.7%
145Nickel waste, scrap$35.5 million+26.6%
146Cigarette paper$34.9 million+103.6%
147Amino-resins$34.9 million+140.9%
148Cast iron tubes, pipes$33.8 million-46.9%
149Computers, optical readers$33.8 million-31.2%
150Dental hygiene preparations$33.4 million+0.4%
151Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods$32.8 million+3,049%
152Prepared glues/other adhesives$32.3 million+14.4%
153Prefabricated buildings$32 million+72.8%
154Zinc oxide/peroxide$31.9 million+193.3%
155Natural sands$31.8 million+3.6%
156Automobile parts/accessories$31.5 million-31.1%
157Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods$30.4 million+0.3%
158Natural honey$30.2 million+16.9%
159Sauces, mixed condiments, seasonings$30.2 million+27%
160Butter$30 million+47.7%
161Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$30 million+16.8%
162Soya-bean oil$29.8 million-30.1%
163Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$29.6 million+119.7%
164Malt extract, food preparations$29.6 million-14.4%
165Natural stone curbstones, flagstones$29.4 million-16.8%
166Stone/ceramic working machine-tools$29.4 million+718.1%
167Electric water heaters, hair dryers$29 million-7.8%
168Embossed, perforated paper$28.9 million+1.6%
169Vinyl acetate polymers$28.8 million+22.9%
170Miscellaneous machinery$28.6 million+28.3%
171Palm oil$28.5 million+1.7%
172Hydraulic turbines, water wheels, regulators$28 million-53.6%
173Sun/safflower/cotton-seed oil$27.8 million-35%
174Aldehyde, paraformaldehyde$27.3 million-28.1%
175Aluminum foil (thin)$25.8 million-63.9%
176Uncoated paper for writing/printing$24.9 million+90%
177Birds' eggs in shell$24.5 million-32.8%
178Synthetic filament yarn$24.5 million-6.4%
179Aluminum wire$24.2 million-30.8%
180Iron and steel stranded wire, cables (uninsulated)$24.2 million+24.1%
181Liquid/paste pigments for paints, dyes$24 million-3.5%
182Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$23.7 million-4.7%
183Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$23.4 million+23.8%
184Uncoated kraft paper$23.3 million+6.4%
185Copper bars, rods$23.2 million+176.7%
186Silicones in primary forms$23.1 million+4,781%
187Fresh or dried citrus fruit$22.8 million+12.1%
188Heterocyclics, oxygen$22.3 million+73.4%
189Packing sacks, bags$22.2 million+409.1%
190Garments from special fabric (not knit or crochet)$21.3 million-9.3%
191Railway track construction material$21.1 million+155.6%
192Sorting/screening/separating/washing machinery$20.9 million+221.8%
193Electric generating sets, converters$20.6 million-51.7%
194Household glassware$20.4 million-19%
195Paper envelopes, letter cards, postcards$20.2 million+84%
196Primary batteries/cells$20.2 million+98.7%
197Rubber tires (new)$20.1 million+43.6%
198Synthetic yarn woven fabrics$20.1 million+77.9%
199Wrist/pocket watches (precious metal case)$19.8 million+45.5%
200Miscellaneous plastic items$19.8 million+46%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$217.3 billion or roughly 99% by value for all products exported from Saudi Arabia during 2017.

See also Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Top Middle Eastern Export Countries and Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Imports

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 13, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Saudi Arabia. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Wikipedia, Saudi Arabia. Accessed on August 13, 2018
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on May 28, 2016