In 2018, South Sudan’s most valuable exported products were crude oil; hay, alfalfa and clover; raw cotton; gold; dried shelled vegetables; sheep or goat meat; natural gums, resins and balsams; unroasted ground-nuts; melons including watermelons and papayas then onions, garlic and leeks.
A landlocked nation deep inside northeast Africa, the Republic of South Sudan shipped an overall US$1.7 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount results from a -62.4% decline since 2014 but a 29.9% increase from 2017 to 2018.
Based on latest estimates available from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, South Sudan’s exported goods plus services represent 64.9% of total South Sudanese economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes a sizable share of re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.
Given South Sudan’s population of 12.6 million people, its total $1.7 billion in 2018 exported goods translates to roughly $130 for every resident in the northeast African nation.
South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in South Sudanese global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from South Sudan.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.6 billion (95.6% of total exports)
- Oil seeds: $32.7 million (2%)
- Cotton: $13.8 million (0.8%)
- Gems, precious metals: $12.4 million (0.7%)
- Vegetables: $10.2 million (0.6%)
- Meat: $2.2 million (0.1%)
- Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $616,000 (0.04%)
- Fruits, nuts: $395,000 (0.02%)
- Wood: $139,000 (0.01%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $127,000 (0.01%)
South Sudan’s top 10 exported product categories accounted for 99.96% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Vegetables was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 340,100% since 2017.
In second place for improving export sales was oil seeds thanks to a 20,568% increase.
South Sudan’s shipments of gums, resins and other vegetable saps posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 224.2%.
The leading decliner among South Sudan’s top 10 export categories was wood via a -64.2% drop year over year.
Overall South Sudan achieved a $1.2 billion trade surplus for 2018, up 67.5% from one year earlier.
The following types of South Sudanese 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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.6 billion (Up by 26% since 2017)
- Oil seeds: $31.6 million (Reversing a -$2.8 million deficit)
- Cotton: $13.1 million (Reversing a -$224,000 deficit)
- Gems, precious metals: $11.9 million (Reversing a -$1,000 deficit)
- Vegetables: $6.9 million (Reversing an -$18.6 million deficit)
- Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $570,000 (Up by 200%)
- Fruits, nuts: $85,000 (Reversing a -$1.2 million deficit)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $31,000 (Down by -59.2%)
South Sudan has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil. In turn, these cashflows indicate South Sudan’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels product category.
Below are exports from South Sudan that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country South Sudan’s goods trail South Sudanese importer spending on foreign products.
- Vehicles: -US$115.3 million (Up by 423.7% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: -$35.2 million (Up by 69.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$33.1 million (Up by 90.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$28.8 million (Up by 102.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$24.6 million (Up by 106.3%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$19.1 million (Down by -38.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$17.5 million (Up by 49.6%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$17 million (Up by 1,525%)
- Cereals: -$15.1 million (Down by -82.7%)
- Books, newspapers, pictures: -$13.4 million (Down by -60.8%)
South Sudan has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the vehicles category.
South Sudanese Export Companies
Not one South Sudanese corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 listing for the world’s largest companies.
Wikipedia does list some international trade-related companies from South Sudan. Selected examples are shown below:
- Buffalo Commercial Bank (commerical banking)
- Ivory Bank (commerical banking)
- Mountain Trade and Development Bank (commerical banking)
- Southern Sudan Beverages Limited (brewery)
- South Supreme Airlines (airliner)
The latest available country-specific data shows that 99.99% of products exported from South Sudan were bought by importers in: China (95.6% of the global total), United Arab Emirates (2.9%), Pakistan (1.5%), Kenya (0.01%), Germany (0.01%), Saudi Arabia (0.005%), Hong Kong (0.004%), Israel (0.003%), South Korea (0.003%) and Ukraine (0.002%).
Trading Economics estimates South Sudan’s unemployment rate to be 11.5% at September 2019, down from 12% as of June 2018.
South Sudan’s capital city is Juba.
See also Top South African Trading Partners, Kenya’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: South Sudan. Accessed on September 12, 2019
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 12, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 12, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 12, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 12, 2019
Wikipedia, Flag of South Sudan. Accessed on September 12, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of South Sudan. Accessed on September 12, 2019
Wikipedia, South Sudan. Accessed on September 12, 2019
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Juba, South Sudan. Accessed on September 12, 2019