Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Azerbaijani manat depreciated by -4% against the US dollar since 2016 but remained about the same from 2019 to 2020. Azerbaijan’s weaker local currency since 2016 makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The 3 biggest export products (crude oil, petroleum gases, processed petroleum oils) represent 86.3% of the overall revenue paid for all Azerbaijani exports during 2020. That percentage indicates a highly concentrated portfolio of exports.
Azerbaijan’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 81.9% of products exported from Azerbaijan were bought by importers in: Italy (30.4% of the global total), Turkey (18.9%), Russia (5.2%), Greece (3.8%), Croatia (3.4%), Georgia (also 3.4%), India (3.3%), Israel (3.2%), China (3.1%), Ukraine (2.6%), Spain (2.4%) and Tunisia (2.3%).
From a continental perspective, 60.1% of Azerbaijan exports by value were delivered to European countries while 36.7% were sold to importers in Asia.
Smaller percentages went to Africa (2.4%), Oceania (0.5%) mostly Australia, North America (0.2%) and Latin America (0.1%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Given Azerbaijan’s population of 10.1 million people, its total $19.6 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $1,400 for every resident in the Middle Eastern country.
Azerbaijan’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Azerbaijani global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Azerbaijan.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$17.8 billion (90.7% of total exports)
- Fruits, nuts: $362.6 million (1.8%)
- Vegetables: $243.2 million (1.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $179.4 million (0.9%)
- Gems, precious metals: $174.5 million (0.9%)
- Cotton: $158.5 million (0.8%)
- Aluminum: $128 million (0.7%)
- Organic chemicals: $66.9 million (0.3%)
- Machinery including computers: $43.9 million (0.2%)
- Iron, steel: $39.4 million (0.2%)
Azerbaijan’s top 10 exports accounted for 97.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Gems and precious metals was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 19.5% from 2019 to 2020. That growth was propelled by higher international sales of Azerbaijani exported gold and silver.
In second place for improving export sales was machinery including computers via an 8.3% gain.
Azerbaijan’s shipments of vegetables posted the only other gain in value among top exports, up by 4.6%.
The leading decliner among Azerbaijan’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -32.7% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, crude oil represents Azerbaijan’s most valuable exported product at 68.1% of the country’s total global sales. In second place were petroleum gases (16%) trailed by processed petroleum oils (2.1%), unwrought gold (1.5%), fresh or chilled tomatoes (1.5%), miscellaneous fresh fruits (1%), uncarded cotton (also 1%) then miscellaneous nuts (0.8%).
Overall Azerbaijan achieved an estimated $3 billion trade surplus for 2020, down by -49.7% from the $6 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Azerbaijani 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$11.7 billion (Down by -31.1% since 2019)
- Fruits, nuts: $228.7 million (Down by -3.9%)
- Gems, precious metals: $196.4 million (Reversing a -$1.96 billion deficit)
- Vegetables: $175 million (Up by 0.9%)
- Cotton: $150.6 million (Down by -1.2%)
- Aluminum: $20.7 million (Down by -41%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $19.5 million (Down by -2.8%)
- Organic chemicals: $17.6 million (Down by -24%)
- Lead: $10 million (Down by -15.3%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $7.9 million (Down by -28.6%)
Azerbaijan has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil and, to a lesser extent, petroleum gases and refined oils. In turn, these cashflows indicate Azerbaijan’s strong competitive advantages under the category called mineral fuels including oil.
Below are exports from Azerbaijan that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Azerbaijan’s goods trail Azerbaijani importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$1.5 billion (Down by -4.7% since 2019)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$952.8 million (Down by -3.8%)
- Vehicles: -$808.6 million (Down by -12.4%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$549.9 million (Down by -11.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$376.5 million (Up by 27.5%)
- Cereals: -$360.5 million (Down by -9.4%)
- Iron, steel: -$344.5 million (Down by -5.9%)
- Wood: -$257.5 million (Down by -9.4%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$219.4 million (Down by -0.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$181.4 million (Down by -19.2%)
Azerbaijan has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category.
Azerbaijani Export Companies
Not one Azerbaijani corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2016.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Azerbaijan. Selected examples are shown below.
- Akkord Industry Construction Investment Corp (construction materials)
- Azal Avia Cargo (cargo airline)
- AzMeCo (methanol)
- AzSamand (vehicles)
- Bahra Biscuit Factory (food)
- Ganja Auto Plant (vehicles)
- Gazelli Group (cosmetics)
- Inter Glass (glass products)
- Shollar water (beverages)
- SOCAR (oil, gas)
In macroeconomic terms, Azerbaijan’s total exported goods represent 9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($151.9 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 9% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 10.5% one year earlier. Those percentages indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Azerbaijan’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Azerbaijan’s average unemployment rate was 6.541% in 2020, down from an average 4.848% one year earlier according to data from the International Monetary Fund.
Azerbaijan’s capital city is Baku, derived from Persian wording that translates to “Wind-pounded city”.
See also Crude Oil Exports by Country, Sweet Cherries Exports by Country and Capital Facts for Baku, Azerbaijan
Central Intelligence Agency, Country Profiles, The World Factbook. Accessed on September 17, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 17, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on September 17, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 17, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 17, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 17, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on September 17, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Azerbaijan. Accessed on September 17, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on September 17, 2021