The 3 biggest exported goods from Bahrain in 2020 were raw aluminum, processed petroleum oils and aluminum wire. Combined, this trio of major exported products accounted for almost three-fifths (59.1%) of Bahrain’s total exports by value. That percentage indicates a relatively concentrated portfolio of exports.
Bahrain’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific prorated data from 2017 shows that 54.4% of products exported from Bahrain were bought by importers in: Saudi Arabia (16.9% of the global total), United Arab Emirates (7.8%), United States (6%), Oman (5.8%), Egypt (4.6%), China (2.9%), India (2.8%), Kuwait (2.2%), Turkey (also 2.2%), South Korea (1.1%), Taiwan (1%) and Netherlands (also 1%).
From a continental perspective and based on prorated 2017 data, 72.2% of Bahrain’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 11% were sold to African importers. Bahrain shipped another 9.3% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Europe (5.7%), Oceania (0.9%) led by Australia then Latin America (0.8%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Given Bahrain’s population of 1.48 million people, its total $7.9 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $5,300 for every resident in the Middle Eastern country.
Bahrain’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Bahraini global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Bahrain.
- Aluminum: US$3.2 billion (40.7% of total exports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2.4 billion (29.8%)
- Iron, steel: $451.2 million (5.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $184.6 million (2.3%)
- Fertilizers: $176.7 million (2.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $176.1 million (2.2%)
- Machinery including computers: $110.8 million (1.4%)
- Organic chemicals: $100.1 million (1.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $94.9 million (1.2%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $84.9 million (1.1%)
Bahrain’s top 10 exports accounted for 87.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Aluminum was the lone grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 57.2% from 2019 to 2020.
The leading decliner among Bahrain’s top 10 export categories was ores, slag and ash which fell -87% year over year. That category was dragged down by severely lower international revenues from exported Bahraini iron ores or concentrates.
The following types of Bahraini 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.
- Aluminum: US$3.1 billion (Up by 81.3% since 2019)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2.2 billion (Up by 551.8%)
- Iron, steel: $348.5 million (Up by 66%)
- Fertilizers: $175.3 million (Down by -19%)
- Organic chemicals: $54.1 million (Down by -41.9%)
- Glass: $25 million (Down by -11.1%)
- Copper: $22.1 million (Reversing a -$3 million deficit)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $18.7 million (Down by -62.4%)
- Railways, streetcars: $15.1 million (Up by 6.2%)
- Soaps, washing preparations, lubricants, waxes: $14.5 million (Up by 38.1%)
Bahrain has positive net exports in the international trade of aluminum-related materials and goods. In turn, these cashflows indicate Bahrain’s strong competitive advantages under the aluminum category.
Bahrain incurred an overall -$928 million trade deficit for 2020, down by -79% from -$4.4 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Bahrain that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Bahrain’s goods trail Bahraini importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$1.4 billion (Up by 8% since 2019)
- Vehicles: -$826 million (Up by 17.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$656.4 million (Down by -42.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$512.4 million (Reversing a $338.9 million surplus)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$334.9 million (Reversing a $12.3 million surplus)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$285.6 million (Up by 685.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$203.8 million (Up by 33.9%)
- Meat: -$201.8 million (Down by -14.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$194.5 million (Down by -45.1%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: -$161.6 million (Up by 8.4%)
Bahrain has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category, notably turbojets, computers and air or vacuum pumps.
Bahraini Export Companies
Two Bahraini regional banks rank among Forbes Global 2000 corporations, namely Ahli United Bank and Arab Banking.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Bahrain. Selected examples are shown below:
- Al Baraka Banking Group (investment banking)
- Aluminium Bahrain (aluminum and related products)
- Bahrain Petroleum Company (oil, gas)
- Banagas (natural gas)
- DHL International Aviation ME (cargo transportation)
- Fakhro Group (industrial conglomerate)
- Nass Corporation B.S.C. (construction materials)
- Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo (travel, shipping, technology conglomerate)
In macroeconomic terms, Bahrain’s total exported goods represent an estimated 10.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($77.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 10.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 10.5% for 2019. Those percentages indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Bahrain’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Bahrain’s average unemployment rate was 1.513% for 2020, up from an average 1.484% in 2019 according to the International Monetary Fund.
Bahrain’s capital city is Manama, a name meaning “place of rest” or “place of dreams” in Arabic.
See also Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Exports, Jordan’s Top 10 Exports and Top Middle Eastern Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Middle East: Bahrain. Accessed on September 11, 2021
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Bahrain. Accessed on September 11, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 11, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 11, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 11, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 11, 2021
Richest Country Reports, Top 100 Richest Countries by GDP. Accessed on September 11, 2021
Wikipedia, Bahrain. Accessed on September 11, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on September 11, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Bahrain. Accessed on September 11, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on September 11, 2021
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Manama, Bahrain. Accessed on September 11, 2021