Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. Geographically, the Arab nation shares borders with Saudi Arabia to its north, Oman to its east and northeast, the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden to its south and the Red Sea to its west.
Exports from Yemen amounted to an estimated US$2 billion in 2015, down -7.4% since 2011 and down -17.9% from 2014 to 2015.
Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Yemen’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $73.4 billion in 2015 (on a purchasing power parity basis). Therefore, exports accounted for about 2.7% of total Yemeni economic output.
From a continental perspective, 56.6% of Yemeni exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 32.8% were sold to fellow Mideast importers. Yemen shipped another 7.6% worth of goods to Africa.
Given its population of 27.4 million people, Yemen’s total $2 billion in 2015 exports translates to roughly $72 for every resident in that country.
The unemployment rate for Yemen was 27% in 2015, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.
Yemen’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Yemeni global shipments during 2015. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Yemen.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.6 billion (82.8% of total exports)
- Fish: $102.3 million (5.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $53.6 million (2.7%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $21.5 million (1.1%)
- Vegetables: $20.3 million (1%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $15.4 million (0.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $13.1 million (0.7%)
- Copper: $12.6 million (0.64%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $12.4 million (0.62%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $11.8 million (0.59%)
Yemen’s top 10 exports accounted for 96.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Copper (up 651.2%) and plastics (up 9%) were the only two product categories to appreciate in value over the 5-year period starting in 2011.
Leading the decliners among the eight remaining categories were mineral fuels including oil (down -73.2%), dairy, eggs and honey (down -62.6%) and fish (down -56.1%).
The following types of Yemeni 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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$863.4 million (Down by -71.9% since 2011)
- Fish: $100.2 million (Down by -56.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: $20.3 million (Down by -30.3%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $15.4 million (Down by -13.9%)
- Copper: $8.9 million (Down by -194.4%)
- Lead: $5.2 million (Up by 103,160%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $3.3 million (Down by -116.4%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $1.4 million (Down by -1,190%)
- Ships, boats: $1.2 million (Down by -102.3%)
- Vegetable plaiting materials: $325,000 (Down by -97.1%)
Yemen has highly positive net exports in the international trade of fossil fuels, specifically crude oil and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Yemen’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels product category which represents over four-fifths of Yemeni exports.
Below are exports from Yemen that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Yemen’s goods trail Yemeni importer spending on foreign products.
- Cereals: -US$1.1 billion (Down by -19.4% since 2011)
- Vehicles : -$371.8 million (Down by -36.4%)
- Iron, steel: -$182.6 million (Down by -6.1%)
- Machinery including computers: -$199.9 million (Down by -53.7%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$228.1 million (Down by -57%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$284.4 million (Up by 0.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$152.7 million (Down by -37.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$198.2 million (Down by -16.5%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$177.2 million (Down by -5%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$159.2 million (Down by -14.2%)
Yemen has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for cereals particularly wheat, rice and corn (in that order).
Yemeni Export Companies
The following companies are selected examples of leading companies headquartered in Yemen:
No Yemeni company appears on the Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings.
Wikipedia does list some exporters from Yemen. Selected examples are shown below:
- Yemen LNG (petroleum)
- Yemen Oil and Gas Corporation (petroleum)
- TeleYemen (telecommunications)
- Hayel Saeed Anam Group (multi-product conglomerate)
- YemenSoft Inc (enterprise/accounting software)
Yemen’s capital city is Sana’a.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.
See also Yemen’s Top 10 Imports and Top Middle Eastern Export Countries
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 24, 2016
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on October 24, 2016
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on October 24, 2016
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 24, 2016
Wikipedia, Category: Companies of Yemen by industry. Accessed on October 24, 2016
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 24, 2016