Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Imports

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia imported US$126.8 billion worth of goods from around the globe in 2017, down by -22.2% since 2013 and down by -2.3% from 2016 to 2017.

Saudi imports represent 0.8% of total global imports estimated at $16.056 trillion for 2017.

From a continental perspective, 47.5% of Saudi Arabia’s total imports by value were purchased from Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 26.9% of import into Saudi Arabia while 12.8% worth of goods originated from North America. Smaller percentage came from Africa (3.2%) and Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (2.5%).

Given Saudi Arabia’s population of 28.6 million people, its total $126.8 billion in 2017 imports translates to roughly $4,400 in yearly product demand from every person in the country.

Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Imports

Top 10

The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Saudi Arabia’s import purchases during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Saudi Arabia.

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Saudi Arabia’s most in-demand imported goods are cars followed by phone system devices including smartphones, medications, gold, refined petroleum oils then aircraft parts.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$16.5 billion (13% of total imports)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: $14.2 billion (11.2%)
  3. Vehicles: $12.9 billion (10.2%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: $5.2 billion (4.1%)
  5. Articles of iron or steel: $4.1 billion (3.2%)
  6. Gems, precious metals: $3.5 billion (2.7%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $2.9 billion (2.3%)
  8. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $2.9 billion (2.3%)
  9. Mineral fuels including oil: $2.7 billion (2.2%)
  10. Cereals: $2.6 billion (2%)

Saudi Arabia’s top 10 imports accounted for 53.2% of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.

Mineral fuels including oil had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories up by 267.2% from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for higher purchases were cereals up 25.1%. The cereals category was led by rice, barley, corn and wheat. Saudi imports of gems and precious metals delivered the third-fastest gain up by 17.7%.

Vehicles endured the most severe drop among the top 10 Saudi imports, falling -27.2% year over year.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.

Machinery

In 2017, Saudi importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers:

  1. Taps, valves, similar appliances: US$1.7 billion (up 3.5% from 2016)
  2. Computers, optical readers: $1.4 billion (down -4%)
  3. Air conditioners: $1.1 billion (down -10.1%)
  4. Machinery parts: $1 billion (down -4.9%)
  5. Liquid pumps and elevators: $908.3 million (down -3.9%)
  6. Air or vacuum pumps: $863.8 million (up 4.6%)
  7. Piston engines: $794.7 million (down -14.4%)
  8. Turbo-jets: $749.4 million (down -3.8%)
  9. Temperature-change machines: $729.4 million (up 21.4%)
  10. Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $674.3 million (down -2.2%)

Among these import subcategories, Saudi Arabia’s purchases of temperature-change machines (up 21.4%), air or vacuum pumps (up 4.6%) and taps, valves and similar appliances (up 3.5%) were the only top categories to grow from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Saudi businesses and consumers.

Electronics

In 2017, Saudi importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronic products:

  1. Phone system devices including smartphones: US$6.6 billion (up 29.5% from 2016)
  2. Electrical converters/power units: $743.4 million (down -26.4%)
  3. Insulated wire/cable: $679 million (down -31.5%)
  4. TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $630.1 million (down -1.4%)
  5. Unrecorded sound media: $628 million (up 94.1%)
  6. High-voltage switches, fuses: $480.4 million (down -38.4%)
  7. Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $449.6 million (down -17.4%)
  8. Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $439.8 million (down -28.2%)
  9. Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $365.9 million (up 1.9%)
  10. Electric storage batteries: $307.8 million (down -6.7%)

Among these import subcategories, Saudi Arabia’s purchases of unrecorded sound media (up 94.1%), phone system devices including smartphones (up 29.5%) and electric water heaters and hair dryers (up 1.9%) were the only top categories to grow from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Saudi businesses and consumers.

Vehicles

In 2017, Saudi importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles:

  1. Cars: US$9.5 billion (down -26.2% from 2016)
  2. Trucks: $1.3 billion (down -41.5%)
  3. Automobile parts/accessories: $1.2 billion (down -18.2%)
  4. Public-transport vehicles: $415.2 million (up 0.1%)
  5. Special purpose vehicles: $164.5 million (down -49.5%)
  6. Trailers: $147 million (down -33.3%)
  7. Work trucks: $56.3 million (up 16.1%)
  8. Tractors: $35.5 million (down -43.4%)
  9. Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $26.8 million (down -7.7%)
  10. Motorcycles: $25.6 million (down -35.1%)

Among these import subcategories, Saudi Arabia’s purchases of work trucks (up 16.1%) and public-transport vehicles (up 0.1%) were the only top categories to grow from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles among Saudi businesses and consumers.

Pharma

In 2017, Saudi importers spent the most on the following 6 subcategories of pharmaceuticals:

  1. Medication mixes in dosage: US$3.8 billion (up 7.6% from 2016)
  2. Blood fractions (including antisera): $713.2 million (up 22.1%)
  3. Medication mixes not in dosage: $412.4 million (down -9.5%)
  4. Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods: $143.7 million (down -1.5%)
  5. Packaged dressings: $106.5 million (up 22.8%)
  6. Dried organs, heparin: $6.7 million (up 21.7%)

Among these import subcategories, Saudi Arabia’s purchases of packaged dressings (up 22.8%), blood fractions including antisera (up 22.1%) and dried organs and heparin (up 21.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported pharmaceuticals among Saudi businesses and consumers.



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

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, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on May 14, 2018