Top 10 Exports from Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands flag courtesy of

Cayman Islands flag

An independent British Overseas Territory located in the western Caribbean Sea, the Cayman Islands shipped US$1.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016. That dollar amount results from a 172.3% gain since 2012 and a robust 259.6% uptick from 2015 to 2016.

Cayman Islands’ top 10 exports accounted for 98.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Cayman Islands’ total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $2.507 billion in 2014 (on a purchasing power parity basis). Therefore, exports represent approximately two-thirds of total Caymanian economic output.

From a continental perspective, $1.52 billion or 89.1% of Caymanian exports by value were delivered to European countries while 5.3% were sold to importers in North America. Cayman Islands shipped another 4.2% worth of goods to Asia with 1.1% going to Africa.

Given Cayman Islands’ population of 58,441 people, its total $1.7 billion in 2016 exports translates to roughly $29,200 for every resident in that country.

Trading Economics estimates Cayman Islands’ unemployment rate to be 4.2% as of June 2017.

Cayman Islands’ Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Caymanian global shipments during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Cayman Islands.

  1. Ships, boats: US$1.5 billion (87.9% of total exports)
  2. Aircraft, spacecraft: $91.4 million (5.3%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $70.9 million (4.1%)
  4. Collector items, art, antiques: $6.3 million (0.4%)
  5. Electrical machinery, equipment: $6.3 million (0.4%)
  6. Machinery including computers: $5 million (0.3%)
  7. Inorganic chemicals: $2.1 million (0.12%)
  8. Fertilizers: $1.9 million (0.11%)
  9. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $1.8 million (0.11%)
  10. Paper, paper items: $909,000 (0.05%)

Paper and paper items was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 3,267% for the 5-year period starting in 2012.

In second place for improving export sales was aircraft and spacecraft which appreciated by 2,225%.

Caymanian gems and precious metals posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 2,042% led by gold and, to a less extent, jewelry and precious stones.

The leading decliner among the top 10 Caymanian export categories was machinery including computers which was down by -79.7%.


The following types of Caymanian 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. Aircraft, spacecraft: US$65.3 million (Down by -345.1% since 2012)
  2. Inorganic chemicals: $1.4 million (Down by -114.7%)
  3. Fertilizers: $1.0 million (Down by -221.6%)
  4. Paper yarn, woven fabric: $54,000 (Down by -1,450%)
  5. Nickel: $3,000 (Down by -107.7%)

Cayman Islands has highly positive net exports in the international trade of aircraft and spacecraft. In turn, these cashflows indicate Cayman Islands’ strong competitive advantages under the aircraft and spacecraft product category.


Overall, Cayman Islands incurred a -$2.5 billion product trade deficit for 2016.

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

  1. Ships, boats: -US$1.5 billion (Up by 228.9% since 2012)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: -$108.2 million (Down by -47.7%)
  3. Paper, paper items: -$70.8 million (Up by 230.2%)
  4. Woodpulp: -$63.7 million (Up by 4,143%)
  5. Machinery including computers: -$57.8 million (Up by 185.9%)
  6. Vehicles : -$56 million (Up by 33.9%)
  7. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$43.6 million (Up by 26.6%)
  8. Gems, precious metals: -$36.8 million (Up by 40.3%)
  9. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: -$30.8 million (Up by 49.8%)
  10. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$28.4 million (Up by 16.7%)

Cayman Islands has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the ships and boats category.


Caymanian Export Companies

One Caymanian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2016, specifically pharmaceuticals supplier Herbalife Ltd.

Wikipedia also lists exports-related companies from the Cayman Islands. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Fabrinet (telecommunications equipment)
  • O2Micro International Limited (semiconductors)
  • Ocean Rig (oil, gas)
  • Theravance Biopharma, Inc (pharmaceuticals)

Cayman Islands’ capital city is George Town.

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

See also Mexico’s Top 10 Exports and Top Mexican Trade Balances

Research Sources:, Flag of Cayman Islands. Accessed on September 1, 2017

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 1, 2017

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 1, 2017

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 1, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 1, 2017

NASDAQ, Companies in Cayman Islands. Accessed on September 1, 2017

The World Factbook, Central America and Caribbean: Cayman Islands. Accessed on September 1, 2017

Wikipedia, Cayman Islands. Accessed on September 1, 2017