A landlocked nation deep inside northeast Africa, the Republic of South Sudan shipped an estimated US$1.6 billion worth of products around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount results from a -33.1% decline since 2015 and a -6.1% drop from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 99.99% of products exported from South Sudan were bought by importers in: China (96.8% of the global total), India (3.0%), Spain (0.1%), Netherlands (0.02%), Mozambique (0.02%), Russia (0.01%), Kenya (0.01%), Germany (0.004%), United Kingdom (0.004%), Hong Kong (0.003%), Australia (0.003%) and Saudi Arabia (0.002%).
From a continental perspective, 99.8% of South Sudan’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries. Much tinier percentages were sold to importers in Europe (0.1%), Africa (0.02%) and Oceania’s Australia (0.003%).
Given South Sudan’s population of 13.4 million people, its total $1.6 billion in 2019 exported goods translates to roughly $120 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 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from South Sudan.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.5 billion (99.3% of total exports)
- Wood: $9.7 million (0.6%)
- Oil seeds: $294,000 (0.02%)
- Machinery including computers: $130,000 (0.01%)
- Vehicles: $102,000 (0.01%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $69,000 (0.004%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $54,000 (0.003%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $35,000 (0.002%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $31,000 (0.002%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $29,000 (0.002%)
South Sudan’s top 10 exported product categories accounted for 99.98% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Wood was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 6,913% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was optical, technical and medical apparatus via a 671.4% gain. South Sudan’s shipments of unknit and non-crocheted clothing and accessories posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 263.2%.
The leading decliner among South Sudan’s top 10 export categories were oil seeds thanks to its -99.1% drop year over year.
At the more detailed 4-digit HTS code level, South Sudan’s most valuable exported products were crude oi (99.2% of its global total), sawn wood (0.4%), rough wood (0.2%), refined petroleum oils (0.1%), unroasted ground-nuts (0.02%) and computer parts or accessories (0.01%), according to the International Trade Centre.
Overall South Sudan achieved an estimated $1.22 billion trade surplus for 2019, up from $1.2 billion 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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.5 billion (Down by -2.2% since 2018)
- Wood: $9.5 million (Reversing a -$1.2 million deficit)
- Lead: $18,000 (Reversing a -$1,000 deficit)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1,000 (No 2018 data)
- Gems, precious metals: $00 (Down by -100.0%)
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-related 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.
- Machinery including computers: -US$59.7 million (Up by 68.3% since 2018)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$46.4 million (Up by 39.8%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: -$27 million (Up by 117.6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$18.5 million (Up by 3.9%)
- Vehicles: -$17.8 million (Down by -84.6%)
- Cereals: -$14.7 million (Down by -2.6%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$14.5 million (Down by -27.8%)
- Books, newspapers, pictures: -$14.2 million (Up by 6%)
- Iron, steel: -$11.7 million (Up by 37%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$10.5 million (Down by -43.6%)
South Sudan has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers 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)
In macroeconomic terms, South Sudan’s total exported goods represent an estimated 7.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($21.4 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 7.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to roughly 8.5% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Rwanda’s total economic performance albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic health is its unemployment rate. Trading Economics estimates South Sudan’s average unemployment rate to be 12.7% for 2019, the same average percentage as one year earlier.
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 July 29, 2020
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 29, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 29, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 29, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 29, 2020
Wikipedia, Flag of South Sudan. Accessed on July 29, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of South Sudan. Accessed on July 29, 2020
Wikipedia, South Sudan. Accessed on July 29, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Juba, South Sudan. Accessed on July 29, 2020