A sovereign Oceanian nation comprised of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands northeast of Australia, the Solomon Islands shipped an estimated US$697.4 million worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 74.2% increase since 2015 and a 22.5% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data for 2018 shows that 94.3% of products exported from the Solomon Islands were bought by importers in: China (66.8% of the global total), Italy (7.2%), India (5.1%), Switzerland (2.4%), Thailand (2.1%), Taiwan (2%), Netherlands (1.9%), Philippines (also 1.9%), Malaysia (1.5%), Hong Kong (1.4%), United Kingdom (1.1%) and Singapore (0.9%).
From a continental perspective, 83.7% of the Solomon Islands’ exports by value in 2018 were delivered to Asian countries while 13% were sold to importers in Europe. Solomon Islands shipped another 2.7% worth of goods to Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand with a smaller percentage going to North America (0.5%).
Given Solomon Islands’ population of 641,000 people, its total $697.4 million in 2019 exports translates to about $1,100 for every resident on these Oceanian islands.
Solomon Islands’ Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Solomon Islander global shipments during 2019 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 Solomon Islands.
- Wood: US$475.6 million (68.2% of total exports)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $67.2 million (9.6%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $59.7 million (8.6%)
- Fish: $39.3 million (5.6%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $35.1 million (5%)
- Cocoa: $9.4 million (1.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $2.8 million (0.4%)
- Oil seeds: $1.6 million (0.2%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $1.2 million (0.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $650,000 (0.1%)
Solomon Islands’ top 10 exports accounted for 99.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Electrical machinery and equipment represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 606.5% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was the ores, slag and ash category via a 180.4% gain exclusively for aluminum ores and concentrates. Solomon Islands’ shipments of fish posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 74.3%.
The leading decliner among Solomon Islands’ top 10 export categories was oil seeds thanks to a -77.3% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, rough wood represents Solomon Islands’ most valuable exported product at 66% of the country’s total. In second place was preserved and prepared fish and caviar (9.6%) trailed by aluminum ores and concentrates (8.6%), frozen whole fish (5.2%), palm oil (3.6%),coconut, palm or babassu oils (1.4%), cocoa beans (1.3%) and sawn wood (also 1.3%).
The Solomon Islands generated an overall $298.5 million product trade surplus for 2019, reversing a -$32.3 million deficit one year earlier.
The following types of Solomon Islander product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus in 2019. 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.
- Wood: US$473.7 million (Up by 12% since 2018)
- Ores, slag, ash: $59.7 million (Up by 180.3%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $57.2 million (Up by 68.9%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $33.2 million (Up by 16.7%)
- Fish: $23.1 million (Up by 4.8%)
- Cocoa: $9.2 million (Up by 15.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $2.7 million (Down by -12.6%)
- Oil seeds: $1.5 million (Down by -77.1%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $293,000 (Reversing a -$13,000 deficit)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $291,000 (Down by -16.4%)
Solomon Islands has positive net exports notably in the international trade of timber-related products. In turn, these cashflows indicate Solomon Islands’ strong competitive advantages under the wood category.
Below are exports from Solomon 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 Solomon Islands’ goods trail Solomon Islander importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US-$83.7 million (Down by -17.6% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$54 million (Down by -37.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$36.2 million (Up by 17%)
- Vehicles: -$21.9 million (Down by -52%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$17.1 million (Down by -32.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$12.6 million (Down by -13.7%)
- Meat: -$9.1 million (Down by -45.3%)
- Iron, steel: -$7.8 million (Down by -36.6%)
- Cereals: -$6 million (Down by -87.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$6 million (Up by 39.4%)
Solomon Islands has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category, led by red ink for crude petroleum oil and petroleum gas.
Solomon Islander Export Companies
Not one Solomon Islander corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000 listing.
Wikipedia lists a couple of entities from Solomon Islands that participate in international trade. Two examples are shown below.
- Central Bank of Solomon Island (governing bank)
- Solomon Airlines (airliner)
In macroeconomic terms, Solomon Islands’ total exported goods represent 47.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($1.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 47.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 65.5% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Solomon Islands’ total economic performance albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of economic performance is its unemployment rate. Solomon Islands’ average unemployment rate was 0.576% in 2019, down from 0.6% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Solomon Islands’ capital city is Honiara.
See also Australia’s Top 10 Exports, New Zealand’s Top 10 Exports and Top Oceanian Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Australia-Oceania: Solomon Islands. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’ Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 20, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 20, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Category:Companies of the Solomon Islands by industry. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Flag of Solomon Islands. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Solomon Islands. Accessed on June 20, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Honiara, Solomon Islands. Accessed on June 20, 2020