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 an estimated US$1 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a 15.8% gain since 2013 but a -56% downturn from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Cayman Islands’ exported goods plus services represent 62.1% of total economic output or Gross Domestic Product for the Cayman Islands. 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, $903.8 million or 90% of Caymanian exports by value were delivered to European countries. Much smaller percentages were shipped from the Cayman Islands to: North America (5.7%), Asia (2.4%) and Oceania (1.4%).

Given Cayman Islands’ population of 58,441 people, its total $1 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $17,000 for every resident in the independent territory.

The unemployment rate in Cayman Islands was 4.9% in 2017, according to Trading Economics.

Cayman Islands’ Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Caymanian global shipments during 2017, at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Cayman Islands.

Drilling down to the more detailed 4-digit HTS codes, the most valuable exported goods from the Cayman Islands were: yachts and similar vessels ($863.8 million), gold ($26.8 million), turbo-jets ($16 million), refined petroleum oils ($12.5 million) then mobile phones ($9.6 million).

  1. Ships, boats: US$866.2 million (86.3% of total exports)
  2. Gems, precious metals: $27.2 million (2.7%)
  3. Machinery including computers: $18.4 million (1.8%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: $15.2 million (1.5%)
  5. Mineral fuels including oil: $12.5 million (1.2%)
  6. Aircraft, spacecraft: $5 million (0.5%)
  7. Collector items, art, antiques: $3.6 million (0.4%)
  8. Lead: $2 million (0.2%)
  9. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $1.5 million (0.2%)
  10. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.1 million (0.1%)

By value, Cayman Islands’ top 10 exports accounted for 94.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 41,433% from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving export sales were lead shipments which rose 1,288%.

Caymanian international sales of machinery including computers posted the third-fastest gain in value via a 264.1% appreciation.

The leading decliner among the top 10 Caymanian export categories was the aircraft products-related category which fell -94.5% year over year.


One sole product category scores positive in terms of net exports (commonly called a product trade balance surplus) for the Cayman Islands. That category is manmade staple fibers thanks to its $11,000 worth of black ink for 2017.

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.

In turn, this cashflow indicate Cayman Islands’ competitive advantages under the manmade staple fibers product category.


Overall Cayman Islands incurred an estimated -$3.2 billion product trade deficit for 2017, up 37.5% from -$2.4 billion in red ink 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$2 billion (Up by 37.3% since 2016)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: -$241.6 million (Up by 123.2%)
  3. Woodpulp: -$130.2 million (Up by 104.3%)
  4. Paper, paper items: -$115.9 million (Up by 63.8%)
  5. Machinery including computers: -$56.3 million (Down by -2.4%)
  6. Vehicles: -$54.1 million (Down by -3%)
  7. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$32.9 million (Down by -24.2%)
  8. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: -$31.8 million (Up by 1.7%)
  9. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$31.7 million (Up by 12.2%)
  10. Clocks, watches including parts: -$22.2 million (Up by 8.9%)

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.

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

Research Sources:, Flag of Cayman Islands. Accessed on September 11, 2018

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 11, 2018

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 11, 2018

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 11, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 11, 2018

NASDAQ, Companies in Cayman Islands. Accessed on September 11, 2018

The World Factbook, Central America and Caribbean: Cayman Islands. Accessed on September 11, 2018

Wikipedia, Cayman Islands. Accessed on September 11, 2018