That dollar amount reflects a -27.9% drop since 2017 when Barbadian exports were worth $485.4 million.
Year over year, the value of products exported from Barbados flatlined via a 1.4% upturn from $345.2 million during 2020.
The top 5 most valuable exports from Barbados are processed petroleum oils, alcohol including spirts and liqueurs, medication mixes in dosage, paper labels, and hydraulic cements. That quintet of major exports represents about half (50.2%) of overall exports sales for Barbados in 2021.
Barbados’ Main Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 64.8% of products exported from Barbados were bought by importers in: United States of America (18.6% of the global total), Jamaica (7.7%), Guyana (7.5%), Trinidad and Tobago (7.3%), Saint Lucia (5%), Canada (3.5%), France (3.3%), Antigua and Barbuda (3.04%), St Vincent and Grenadines (2.97%), Grenada (2.7%), Saint Kitts and Nevis (1.7%) and Dominica (1.5%).
From a continental perspective, 58% of Barbados exports by value was delivered to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean countries while 28.5% was sold to North American importers. Barbados shipped another 10.3% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Asia (3.2%), Oceania (0.03%) led by Australia and New Zealand, then Africa (also 0.03%).
Given Barbados’ population of 289,000 people, the total $350.2 million in 2021 Barbadian exports translates to some $1,200 for every person living on the Caribbean island. That dollar metric falls short of the average $1,500 per capita one year earlier in 2020.
Barbados’ Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Barbadian global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall Barbadian exports.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$83.5 million (23.8% of total exports)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $59 million (16.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $24.6 million (7%)
- Paper, paper items: $18 million (5.1%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $14.1 million (4%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $13.9 million (4%)
- Other chemical goods: $13.7 million (3.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $11.4 million (3.2%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $11.3 million (3.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $10 million (2.9%)
Barbados’s top 10 exports accounted for almost three-quarters (74.1%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Gems and precious metals represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 132.3% from 2020 to 2021. That product category was propelled by greater international revenues from exported jewelry.
In second place for improving export sales was the optical, technical and medical apparatus category via a 26.8% advance.
Barbados’s shipments of beverages, spirits and vinegar posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 21.6%.
The leading decliner among Barbados’s top 10 export categories was miscellaneous chemical goods, dragged down by a -40.8% drop year over year.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, the most valuable exported products from Barbados are refined petroleum oils (20.9%), alcohol including spirits and liqueurs (14.9%), medicines for prophylactic or therapeutic purposes (6.6%), paper labels (4.1%), hydraulic cements (3.8%), packaged insecticides, fungicides and herbicides (also 3.8%), margarine (3.3%), bread, biscuits, cakes and pastries (3.2%), jewelry (2.5%), then crude oil (1.7%).
Products Generating Best Trade Surpluses for Barbados
The following types of Barbadian 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.
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: US$19.3 million (Up by 126.8% since 2020)
- Gems, precious metals: $9.1 million (Up by 156.4%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $5.6 million (Down by -2.6%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $3.5 million (Up by 938.3%)
- Clocks , watches including parts: $2.3 million (Up by 697.9%)
- Live animals: $1.1 million (Up by 30.7%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $602,000 (Reversing a -$137,000 deficit)
- Woodpulp: $19,000 (Down by -17.4%)
Barbados has highly positive net exports in the international trade of alcoholic beverages including spirits and liqueurs. In turn, these cashflows indicate Barbados’s strong competitive advantages under the beverages, spirits and vinegar product category.
Products Causing Worst Trade Deficits for Barbados
Overall, Barbados incurred a -$1.32 billion product trade deficit for 2021, expanding by 14.5% from the -$1.16 billion in red ink one year earlier for 2020.
Below are exports from Barbados that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Barbados’s goods trail Barbadian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US-$259.8 million (Up by 54.5% since 2020)
- Machinery including computers: -$167.2 million (Up by 24.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$105.4 million (Down by -14%)
- Vehicles: -$80.2 million (Down by -14.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$64.9 million (Up by 26.3%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: -$41.9 million (Up by 10.4%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$34.9 million (Up by 45.3%)
- Wood: -$33.6 million (Up by 29.3%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$32.2 million (Up by 7.5%)
- Meat: -$31.9 million (Up by 16.7%)
Barbados has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for refined petroleum oils, petroleum gases and petroleum coke under the category named mineral fuels including oil.
Barbados’ Export Companies
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Barbados. Selected examples are shown below.
- Banks Barbados Brewery (alcoholic beverages)
- Barbados National Oil Company (oil and gas)
- Mount Gay Rum (alcoholic beverages)
- Solar Dynamics (solar heaters)
- West Indies Sugar & Trading Co (sugar)
- WIBISCO (biscuits, other food products)
In macroeconomic terms, Barbados’ total exported goods represent 8.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($4.26 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 8.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 mirrors the same percentage one year earlier. This seems to indicate a relatively consistent reliance on products sold on international markets for Barbados’ total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Barbados’ unemployment rate averaged 14.501% for 2021, down from 21.279% one year earlier in 2020 according to Trading Economics.
See also America’s Top Trading Partners, Jamaica’s Top 10 Exports, Guyana’s Top 10 Exports Plus Main Trading Partners, Trinidad and Tobago’s Top 10 Exports and Refined Oil Exports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, Country Profiles, The World Factbook. Accessed on August 21, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 21, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 21, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 21, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 21, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on August 21, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Barbados. Accessed on August 21, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on August 21, 2022