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.

At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Saudi Arabia’s most valuable exported products are crude oil and refined petroleum oils followed by polymers, petroleum gases then ethers.

  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%)

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)


 
Saudi Arabia’s capital city is Riyadh.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Highest Value Saudi Arabian Import Products, 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 May 14, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 14, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on May 14, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 14, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Saudi Arabia. Accessed on May 14, 2018

Wikipedia, Saudi Arabia. Accessed on May 14, 2018
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 14, 2018

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