The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shipped an estimated US$16.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019, down by -57.2% since 2015 and a -56.4% drop from 2018 to 2019. A federal republic on South America’s northern coast, Venezuela is bordered by Guyana to its east, Brazil to its south and Colombia to its west.
Economically, Venezuela is highly dependent on its petroleum oil exports which hit 89.4% of the country’s total product shipments. That percentage shows Venezuela’s vulnerability to a persisting downswing in oil prices. Venezuela’s oil exports break down to 84.3% crude oil compared to 5.1% for refined petroleum oils.
Given Venezuela’s population of 28.5 million people, the estimated $16.5 billion in 2019 Venezuelan exports represents roughly $600 for every person in the South American country.
Venezuela’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Venezuelan global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Venezuela.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$14.8 billion (89.9% of total exports)
- Organic chemicals: $404.8 million (2.5%)
- Iron, steel: $238.4 million (1.4%)
- Fish: $236.7 million (1.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $120 million (0.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $111 million (0.7%)
- Aluminum: $78.1 million (0.5%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $76.1 million (0.5%)
- Copper: $56 million (0.3%)
- Cocoa: $53.6 million (0.3%)
Venezuela’s top 10 exports accounted for 98.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Cocoa was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 55% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was fish via a 28% gain. The only other improvement belongs to Venezuela’s shipments of beverages, spirits and vinegar up 4%.
The leading decliner among Venezuela’s top 10 export categories was gems and precious metals, thanks to a -95.6% drop year over year burdened by plunging international revenues from exported gold.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, crude oil represents Venezuela’s most valuable exported product at 84.3% of the country’s total. In second place was processed petroleum oils (5.1%) trailed by acyclic alcohols (2.3%), iron ore reduced products (1.1%), crustaceans including lobsters (0.9%), gold (0.7%), iron ores and concentrates (also 0.7%), alcohol including spirits and liqueurs (0.4%), aluminum (0.3%), frozen whole fish (0.3%) then cocoa beans (also 0.3%).
Overall Venezuela posted a $10.9 billion trade surplus during 2019, down by -58.4% from $26.1 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Venezuelan 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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$13.9 billion (Down by -50.8% since 2018)
- Organic chemicals: $331.1 million (Up by 8.7%)
- Fish: $232.1 million (Up by 27.2%)
- Iron, steel: $209.1 million (Down by -16.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: $116.7 million (Down by -95.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $110.5 million (Down by -49.6%)
- Aluminum: $59.9 million (Down by -72.1%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $52.7 million (Down by -7%)
- Cocoa: $50.3 million (Up by 88.9%)
- Copper: $42.4 million (Down by -32%)
Venezuela has highly positive net exports particularly in the international trade of crude oil and, to a lesser extent, petroleum coke. In turn, these cashflows indicate Venezuela’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil category.
Below are exports from Venezuela that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Venezuela’s goods trail Venezuelan importer spending on foreign products.
- Cereals: -US$554.6 million (Down by -37.3% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$509.5 million (Down by -39.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$361.9 million (Down by -7%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$196 million (Up by 33.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$192.6 million (Up by 49.9%)
- Vehicles: -$189.9 million (Down by -3.3%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: -$177.2 million (Down by -14%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: -$159.3 million (Up by 45.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$132.7 million (Down by -14%)
- Footwear: -$114.9 million (Up by 139.8%)
Venezuela has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for cereals, mainly rice, corn and wheat.
Venezuelan Export Companies
Two Venezuelan corporations ranked among Forbes Global 2000, namely:
- Mercantil Servicios
- Banco Occidental
Both corporations are regional banks.
Wikipedia lists exporters from Venezuela. Selected examples are shown below.
Citgo Petroleum Corporation and Petróleos de Venezuela are two of Venezuela’s largest oil and gas companies.
CVG Alcasa is a leading aluminum producer. Siderúrgica del Orinoco and Siderúrgica del Turbio, S.A. are examples of Venezuelan steel manufacturers.
In macroeconomic terms, Venezuela’s total exported goods represented 12.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($311.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars).
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Venezuela’s average unemployment rate in 2018 was 35.027%, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Venezuela’s capital is Caracas, a city nicknamed The Avila’s Sultana.
See also Venezuela’s Top 10 Imports, Top South American Export Countries and Capital Facts for Caracas, Venezuela
Central Intelligence Agency, South America: Venezuela. Accessed on July 9, 2020
Forbes 2019 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 9, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on July 9, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 9, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 9, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 9, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 9, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Venezuela. Accessed on July 9, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 9, 2020
Wikipedia, Venezuela. Accessed on July 9, 2020
WorldOMeter, Venezuela Population. Accessed on July 9, 2020