The latest available country-specific data shows that 83.1% of products exported from Barbados were bought by importers in: United States (13%), Jamaica (8.2%), Guyana (7.6%), Trinidad and Tobago (6.8%), Saint Lucia (4.9%), Canada (4.4%), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (3.5%), France (3%), Antigua and Barbuda (2.9%), Grenada (also 2.9%) and United Kingdom (2.5%).
The accounting category “ship stores and bunkers” held 23.4% of Barbadian exports in 2020. From a continental perspective, 47.7% of Barbados exports by value were delivered to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean countries while 17.4% were sold to North American importers. Barbados shipped another 8.0% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Asian (2%), Africa (0.1%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.02%).
Given Barbados’ population of 287,000 people, the total $444.1 million in 2020 Barbadian exports translates to roughly $1,500 for every person living on the Caribbean island.
Barbados’ Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Barbadian global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall Barbadian exports.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$91.6 million (26.5% of total exports)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $48.5 million (14.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $24.1 million (7%)
- Other chemical goods: $23.2 million (6.7%)
- Paper, paper items: $17.2 million (5%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $15.8 million (4.6%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $12.2 million (3.5%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $10.2 million (2.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $9 million (2.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $8.4 million (2.4%)
Barbados’ top 10 exports account for about three-quarters (75.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Miscellaneous chemical goods represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 172.9%. In second place for improving export sales was paper including paper items via a 10.7% gain. The only other increase year over year was 2.7% for Barbados’ shipments of animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes.
The leading decliner among Barbados’s top 10 export categories was optical, technical and medical apparatus thanks to an annual -54.2% drop.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, the most valuable exported products from Barbados are refined petroleum oils (23.4%), alcohol including spirits and liqueurs (12.3%), medicines for prophylactic or therapeutic purposes (6.6%), packaged insecticides, fungicides and herbicides (6%), hydraulic cements (4.5%), paper labels (3.9%) and margarine (3%).
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.
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $5.7 million (Down by -69.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: $3.5 million (Down by -63.8%)
- Ships, boats: $2.1 million (Reversing a -$50,000 deficit)
- Live animals: $811,000 (Up by 7.4%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $337,000 (Down by -83.6%)
- Clocks , watches including parts: $286,000 (Down by -97.9%)
- Woodpulp: $23,000 (Down by -67.6%)
Barbados has highly positive net exports in the international trade of cement and, to a lesser degree, limestone and gravel. In turn, these cashflows indicate Barbados’s strong competitive advantages under the salt, sulphur, stone and cement product category.
Overall, Barbados incurred a -$1.2 billion product trade deficit for 2020, up 1.7% from the -$1.1 billion in red ink one year earlier.
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$168.2 million (Down by -28.9% since 2019)
- Machinery including computers: -$134.6 million (Up by 4.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$122.6 million (Up by 46.7%)
- Vehicles: -$94.3 million (Up by 5.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$51.4 million (Up by 13.4%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: -$37.9 million (Down by -2.3%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$29.9 million (Down by -6.4%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$29.3 million (Up by 110.5%)
- Meat: -$27.3 million (Down by -11.9%)
- Wood: -$26 million (Down by -1.6%)
Barbados has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for refined petroleum oils, petroleum gases and petroleum coke under the mineral fuels including oil category.
Barbadian 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 2020 ($4.19 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 8.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 mirrors the same percentage one year earlier. This seems to indicate a relatively steady 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’ average unemployment rate was forecast to be 12.1% for 2020, up from 8.9% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
See also America’s Top Trading Partners and Refined Oil Exports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, Country Profiles, The World Factbook. Accessed on March 14, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 14, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 14, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 14, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 14, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 14, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 14, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Barbados. Accessed on March 14, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 14, 2021