Tonga’s Top 10 Exports

Tonga flag courtesy of Wikimedia

Tonga flag

A group of 36 inhabited islands in the South Pacific, the Kingdom of Tonga shipped an estimated US$17.1 million worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a 0.3% rise since 2013 and a 16.8% gain from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Tonga’s exported goods plus services represent 18.7% of total Tongan economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, over 40% of Tongan exports by value were delivered to fellow Oceanian destinations particularly New Zealand and Australia, while about 37% were sold to Asian importers. Tonga shipped another 15% worth of goods to North America.

Given Tonga’s population of 106,479 people as of July 2017, its total $17.1 million in 2017 exports translates to roughly $160 for every resident in the South Pacific nation.

Tonga’s unemployment rate was 1.2% in 2017 as estimated by Trading Economics.

Tonga’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Tongan global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Tonga. At the most granular Harmonized Tariff System code tariff-line, Tonga’s number one exported product are pumpkins, squash and similar gourds followed by fresh or chilled miscellaneous fish then fresh or chilled yellowfin tunas.

  1. Vegetables: US$6.7 million (38.8% of total exports)
  2. Fish: $4.4 million (25.5%)
  3. Fruits, nuts: $968,000 (5.6%)
  4. Oil seeds: $510,000 (3%)
  5. Machinery including computers: $499,000 (2.9%)
  6. Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $357,000 (2.1%)
  7. Wood: $343,000 (2%)
  8. Electrical machinery, equipment: $277,000 (1.6%)
  9. Knit or crochet fabric: $267,000 (1.6%)
  10. Coffee, tea, spices: $236,000 (1.4%)

Tonga’s top 10 exports accounted for 84.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Wood was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 17,050% from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving export sales was the oil seeds category which rose by 164.2%.

Tongan vegetables posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 42.5%.

Leading the decliners at -65.2% was the spices-related category weighted down by Tonga’s falling international sales of vanilla.


The following types of Tongan 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. Vegetables: US$5.7 million (Up by 43.6% since 2016)
  2. Oil seeds: $417,000 (Reversing a -$29,000 deficit)
  3. Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $312,000 (Up by 4.3%)
  4. Knit or crochet fabric: $239,000 (Reversing a -$19,000 deficit)
  5. Coffee, tea, spices: $141,000 (Down by -69.4%)
  6. Collector items, art, antiques: $36,000 (Down by -73.3%)
  7. Gems, precious metals: $4,000 (Reversing a -$228,000 deficit)

Tonga has highly positive net exports in the international trade of vegetables. In turn, these cashflows indicate Tonga’s strong competitive advantages under the vegetables product category.


Overall Tonga incurred a -$119.8 million product trade deficit for 2017, down -35.7% from -$186.2 million one year earlier.

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

  1. Meat: -US$17.1 million (Up by 15.1% since 2016)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$11.4 million (Down by -13.8%)
  3. Machinery including computers: -$10.2 million (Up by 1.2%)
  4. Vehicles: -$8.5 million (Down by -0.4%)
  5. Meat/seafood preparations: -$6.4 million (Up by 39.5%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: -$5.6 million (Down by -28.6%)
  7. Wood: -$4.7 million (Down by -25.9%)
  8. Dairy, eggs, honey: -$4.6 million (Down by -12.9%)
  9. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$4.3 million (Up by 36.8%)
  10. Articles of iron or steel: -$4.1 million (Down by -42.7%)

Tonga has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for meat notably (poultry, sheep, goat and beef).


Tongan Export Companies

Not one Tongan corporation ranks on the Forbes Global 2000 list.

Wikipedia lists several trade-related entities in Tonga. A couple of selected examples are shown below:

  • Real Tonga (airliner)
  • Tonga Ma’a Tonga Kautaha (copra/dried coconut cooperative)

Alibaba is an ecommerce repository where suppliers from Tonga do business. The following are Tongan businesses listed on Alibaba.

  • HaiKuuLani Export (fresh kava, frozen taro/tapioca)
  • Hingano Import/Export (Kava roots/powder)
  • South Pacific MOZUKU (herbs, natural remedies)
  • Tannchez (seafood, vegetables, fruits)


Tonga’s capital city is Nukuʻalofa.

See also Top Oceanian Export Countries, Australia’s Top Trading Partners and New Zealand’s Top 10 Exports

Research Sources:
Alibaba, Wholesale Suppliers from Tonga. Accessed on September 10, 2018

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 10, 2018

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 10, 2018

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 10, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 10, 2018

The World Factbook, Australia-Oceania: Tonga. Accessed on September 10, 2018

Trading Economics, Tonga – Unemployment, total. Accessed on September 10, 2018

Wikimedia, Flag of Tonga. Accessed on September 10, 2018

Wikipedia, Category:Companies of Tonga. Accessed on September 10, 2018

Wikipedia, Tonga. Accessed on September 10, 2018