South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports

South Sudan flag courtesy of Wikipedia

South Sudan flag (Wikipedia)

A landlocked nation deep inside northeast Africa, the Republic of South Sudan shipped US$1.4 billion worth of petroleum and other products around the globe in 2017.

That dollar amount results from a -45.1% decline since 2013 and a -8.2% drop from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates 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.

From a continental perspective, $1.355 billion or 99.8% of South Sudanese exports by value were delivered to Asian countries. Much smaller percentages were sold to importers in Europe (0.2%), Africa (0.02%) and Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.002%).

Given South Sudan’s population of 13 million people, its total $1.4 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $100 for every resident in the northeast African nation.

Trading Economics estimates South Sudan’s unemployment rate to be 12% as of June 2018.

South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

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

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.3 billion (97.9% of total exports)
  2. Vegetables: $11.1 million (0.8%)
  3. Wood: $7.6 million (0.6%)
  4. Cotton: $6.6 million (0.5%)
  5. Machinery including computers: $1.6 million (0.1%)
  6. Oil seeds: $946,000 (0.07%)
  7. Aircraft, spacecraft: $305,000 (0.02%)
  8. Woodpulp: $138,000 (0.01%)
  9. Electrical machinery, equipment: $135,000 (0.01%)
  10. Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $86,000 (0.006%)

South Sudan’s exported crude oil represents about 97% of its total exports by value. The top 10 exports accounted for 99.96% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Albeit involving much smaller amounts, wood was the fastest-growing among South Sudan’s top 10 export categories via a 2,033% increase from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving international sales was exported cotton appreciating by 1,509%.

South Sudanese deliveries of aircraft or spacecraft posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 989.3%.

Leading the decliners was the oil seeds category which dropped in value by -87.9%.


Overall South Sudan achieved a $1.1 billion trade surplus for 2017, up 15% from $919 million in black ink 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.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.3 billion (Down by -8.7% since 2016)
  2. Vegetables: $9 million (Reversing a -$9.2 million deficit)
  3. Wood: $7 million (Reversing a -$141,000 deficit)
  4. Cotton: $4.4 million (Reversing a -$1.8 million deficit)
  5. Aircraft, spacecraft: $147,000 (Reversing a -$1.1 million deficit)
  6. Woodpulp: $138,000 (No 2016 data)
  7. Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $86,000 (Down by -80.5%)
  8. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $76,000 (Up by 181.5%)

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 and specifically crude oil.


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.

  1. Books, newspapers, pictures: -US$33.1 million (Up by 53.2% since 2016)
  2. Pharmaceuticals: -$21.9 million (Up by 8.3%)
  3. Machinery including computers: -$20.5 million (Down by -9.7%)
  4. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$19.7 million (Down by -22.9%)
  5. Cereals: -$16.4 million (Down by -79.7%)
  6. Cereal/milk preparations: -$13.9 million (Up by 34.8%)
  7. Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: -$12.6 million (Down by -22%)
  8. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$12.1 million (Down by -47.7%)
  9. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$11.2 million (Up by 7.3%)
  10. Miscellaneous food preparations: -$10.9 million (Down by -28.1%)

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


South Sudanese Export Companies

Not one South Sudanese corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2016.

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)

South Sudan’s capital city is Juba.

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

See also Top South African Trading Partners, Kenya’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries

Research Sources:
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 26, 2018

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 26, 2018

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 26, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 26, 2018

The World Factbook, Africa: South Sudan. Accessed on June 26, 2018

Wikipedia, Flag of South Sudan. Accessed on June 26, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of South Sudan. Accessed on June 26, 2018

Wikipedia, South Sudan. Accessed on June 26, 2018

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Juba, South Sudan. Accessed on June 26, 2018