Somalia’s Top 10 Exports

Somali flag courtesy of

Somali flag (

Located on the continent’s northeast extremity known as the Horn of Africa, the Federal Republic of Somalia shipped an estimated US$258.9 million worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a -59.8% decrease since 2013 and a -58.8% drop from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Somalia’s exported goods plus services represent 0.3% of total Somalian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, $231.2 million or 89.3% of Somali exports by value were delivered to Asian countries. Smaller export percentages went to importers in Europe (8.6%), Africa (1.5%) and North America (0.6%).

Given Somalia’s population of 11 million people, its total $258.9 million in 2017 exports translates to roughly $25 for every resident in the Horn of Africa country.

Somalia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Somali global shipments during 2017 at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Somalia.

Drilling down to the more detailed 4-digit HTS codes, Somalia’s most valuable exported goods are live goats ($83.6 million), live sheep ($66.7 million), live cattle ($33.7 million), natural gums or resins ($26.3 million) then frozen cuttle fish and squid ($16.8 million).

  1. Live animals: US$184.4 million (71.2% of total exports)
  2. Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $26.4 million (10.2%)
  3. Fish: $23.2 million (9%)
  4. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $4.7 million (1.8%)
  5. Ships, boats: $4.4 million (1.7%)
  6. Meat: $3 million (1.2%)
  7. Oil seeds: $2.3 million (0.9%)
  8. Electrical machinery, equipment: $2.1 million (0.8%)
  9. Soaps, washing preparations, lubricants, waxes: $1.4 million (0.5%)
  10. Machinery including computers: $1.1 million (0.4%)

Somalia’s top 10 exports accounted for 97.7% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Electrical machinery and equipment was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 260.3% from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving export sales was the machinery including computers category which appreciated by 117.1%.

Exported Somalian gums, resins and other vegetable saps posted the third-fastest gain via a 54.8% improvement.

Leading the declining product categories were exports of oil seeds (down -91.6%), live animals (down -59.9%) then meat (down -17.2%).


The following types of Somali 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. Live animals: US$165.4 million (Down by -60.5% since 2016)
  2. Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $25.9 million (Up by 54.6%)
  3. Fish: $22.1 million (Down by -8.9%)
  4. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $4.7 million (Up by 2.4%)
  5. Ships, boats: $3.9 million (Down by -8.9%)
  6. Copper: $354,000 (Reversing a -$219,000 deficit)
  7. Lead: $258,000 (Up by 789.7%)
  8. Oil seeds: $194,000 (Down by -99.2%)
  9. Collector items, art, antiques: $72,000 (Up by 700%)
  10. Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $19,000 (Up by 11.8%)

Somalia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of live animals particularly sheep and goats. In turn, these cashflows indicate Somalia’s strong competitive advantages under the live animals category.


Overall Somalia incurred a -$2.3 billion trade deficit for 2017, up by 7.6% from -$2.1 billion during 2016.

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

  1. Sugar, sugar confectionery: -US$281.1 million (Down by -13.2% since 2016)
  2. Vegetables: -$237.1 million (Down by -2.3%)
  3. Cereals: -$192.3 million (Up by 28.9%)
  4. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$129.4 million (Up by 14.5%)
  5. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$114.1 million (Down by -8.6%)
  6. Cereal/milk preparations: -$108.3 million (Up by 12.5%)
  7. Footwear: -$88.4 million (Down by -22.3%)
  8. Miscellaneous food preparations: -$86.8 million (Up by 90.5%)
  9. Milling products, malt, starches: -$79.3 million (Down by -16.4%)
  10. Manmade staple fibers: -$73.9 million (Up by 19.2%)

Somalia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the sugar and sugar confectionery category.


Somali Export Companies

Not one Somali corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000.

Wikipedia also lists exports-related companies from Somalia. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Bosaso Tannery (product tanning)
  • Hafun Fishing Company (fish)
  • International Bank of Somalia (commercial bank)
  • KAAH Electric (electricity)
  • Somafone (telecommunications)
  • Somalia Petroleum Corporation (oil, gas)

Somalia’s capital city is Mogadishu.

See also South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports, Angola’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries

Research Sources:, Flag of Somalia. Accessed on August 21, 2018

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 21, 2018

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 21, 2018

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 21, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 21, 2018

The World Bank, Unemployment, total (% of total labor force). Accessed on August 21, 2018

The World Factbook, Africa: Somalia. Accessed on August 21, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Somalia. Accessed on August 21, 2018

Wikipedia, Somalia. Accessed on August 21, 2018

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Mogadishu, Somalia. Accessed on August 21, 2018