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 US$14.7 million worth of goods around the globe in 2016. That dollar amount represents a -5.4% drop since 2012 but a 20.9% gain from 2015 to 2016.

Tonga’s top 10 exports accounted for 89.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Tonga’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $56 million in 2016 (on a purchasing power parity basis). Therefore, exported products represent an estimated 26.3% of total Tongan economic output.

From a continental perspective, 42.3% of Tongan exports by value were delivered to other Oceanian destinations particularly New Zealand and Australia, while 38.7% were sold to Asian importers. Tonga shipped another 15.1% worth of goods to North America.

Given Tonga’s population of 106,479 people as of July 2017, its total $14.7 million in 2016 exports translates to roughly $140 for every resident in that country.

Tonga’s unemployment rate was 4.9% in 2016 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 2016. 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 is pumpkins, squash and gourds followed by fresh or chilled miscellaneous fish then fresh or chilled yellowfin tunas.

  1. Vegetables: US$4.6 million (31.5% of total exports)
  2. Fish: $4.5 million (30.4%)
  3. Machinery including computers: $898,000 (6.1%)
  4. Fruits, nuts: $889,000 (6%)
  5. Spices: $679,000 (4.6%)
  6. Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $397,000 (2.7%)
  7. Beverages: $363,000 (2.5%)
  8. Oil seeds: $351,000 (2.4%)
  9. Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $257,000 (1.7%)
  10. Electrical machinery, equipment: $216,000 (1.5%)

Beverages was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 12,000% for the 5-year period starting in 2012.

In second place for improving export sales was the spices category which rose by 2,163% led by vanilla.

Tongan miscellaneous animal-origin products posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 317.9%.

There were 3 decliners among Tonga’s top export products: oil seeds (down by -82.1%), machinery including computers (down by -19.1%) and fish (down by -3.8%).


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 is 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$3.9 million (Up by 49.9% since 2012)
  2. Fish: $703,000 (Down by -82.9%)
  3. Spices: $461,000 (Reversing a -$340,000 deficit)
  4. Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $360,000 (Up by 1,233%)
  5. Fruits, nuts: $208,000 (Down by -48.5%)
  6. Collector items, art, antiques: $130,000 (Down by -171%)
  7. Oil seeds: $129,000 (Down by -92.7%)
  8. Vegetable plaiting materials: $47,000 (Up by 1,467%)
  9. Knit or crochet fabric: $12,000 (Reversing a -$2,000 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 -$185.9 million product trade deficit for 2016 up 1.2% from -$183.6 million in 2012.

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. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$40.1 million (Down by -15.3% since 2012)
  2. Meat: -$14.8 million (Down by -25.9%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$13.3 million (Up by 10.4%)
  4. Machinery including computers: -$10.1 million (Down by -30%)
  5. Vehicles : -$8.5 million (Down by -15%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: -$7.9 million (Up by 91%)
  7. Articles of iron or steel: -$7.2 million (Up by 46.7%)
  8. Wood: -$6.3 million (Up by 31.9%)
  9. Ships, boats: -$6.2 million (Up by 1,297%)
  10. Cereal/milk preparations: -$6 million (Down by -0.4%)

Tonga has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for refined petroleum oils.


Tongan Export Companies

Not one Tongan corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2016.

Wikipedia lists several trade-related entities in Tonga. Selected examples are shown below:

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

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.

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

See also Top Oceanian Export Countries, Highest Value Australian Export Products and New Zealand’s Top 10 Exports

Research Sources:
Alibaba, Wholesale Suppliers from Tonga. Accessed on October 24, 2017

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 24, 2017

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 24, 2017

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on October 24, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 24, 2017

The World Factbook, Australia-Oceania: Tonga. Accessed on October 24, 2017

Trading Economics, Tonga – Unemployment, total. Accessed on October 24, 2017

Wikimedia, Flag of Tonga. Accessed on October 24, 2017

Wikipedia, Category:Companies of Tonga. Accessed on October 24, 2017

Wikipedia, Tonga. Accessed on October 24, 2017