That estimated dollar amount results from a -19.7% decline from $2.3 billion in 2018.
Year over year, the total value of Cuban exports rose 6.5% compared to $1.74 billion for 2021.
Cuba’s 5 most valuable exports are cigars and cigarettes, nickel matte and oxide sinters, zinc ores and concentrates, alcoholic beverages, and sugar. That leading quintet represents 39% of the total value for Cuban exports during 2022.
Best Cuban Exports Customers
The latest available country-specific estimates for 2018 shows that 87% of products exported from Cuba were bought by importers in: Canada (23.8% of the Cuban total), mainland China (18.5%), Venezuela (17.6%), Spain (7.8%), Netherlands (5.2%), Singapore (3.3%), Belgium (2.2%), Hong Kong (2.1%), Germany (2%), Portugal (1.8%), France (1.6%) and Cyprus (1.1%).
From a continental perspective, 26.8% of Cuba’s exports by value was delivered to Asian countries while 25.9% was sold to importers in Europe. Cuba shipped another 25% worth of goods to North America, with 21.9% going to buyers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Tinier percentages went to Africa (0.3%) and Oceania (0.2%) mostly Australia.
Given Cuba’s population of 11.2 million people, its total $1.9 billion worth of exported products in 2022 translates to roughly $170 for every resident in the Caribbean island country. That dollar metric exceeds the average $150 per capita one year earlier during 2021.
According to Trading Economics, Cuba’s overall Gross Domestic Product per capita was $20,142 for 2022 on a Purchasing Power Parity basis.
Cuba’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Cuban global shipments during 2022, at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Cuba.
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: US$333.2 million (17.9% of total exports)
- Nickel: $330.8 million (17.8%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $290.5 million (15.6%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $149.5 million (8.1%)
- Fish: $107.6 million (5.8%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $107.5 million (5.8%)
- Wood: $66.3 million (3.6%)
- Copper: $35.3 million (1.9%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $28.3 million (1.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $25.1 million (1.4%)
Cuba’s top 10 exported product categories account for almost four-fifths (79.4%) of the value for the Caribbean country’s overall shipments.
Ores, slag and ash was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 87% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving export sales was Cuban exported copper via an 84.7% advance.
Cuba’s shipments of wood posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 76.6%.
The severest decliner among Cuba’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil, pulled down by a -65.1% year-over-year reduction.
Drilling down to the more detailed 4-digit HTS codes, Cuba’s 10 most valuable exports are cigars and cigarettes (15.4% of the Cuban total), nickel matte and oxide sinters (11.4%), zinc ores and concentrates (9.9%), alcoholic beverages (7.1%), sugar (5.2%), crustaceans including lobsters (4.8%), precious metal ores and concentrates (3.5%), wood charcoal (3.2%), copper waste or scrap (1.7%), then natural honey (1.4%).
Products Generating Cuba’s Greatest Trade Surpluses
Based on 2021 data, the following types of Cuban 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.
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: US$231.9 million (Down by -10.7% since 2021)
- Nickel: $224.7 million (Up by 20.1%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $207.9 million (Up by 35.5%)
- Fish: $71.1 million (Down by -14.6%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $56.5 million (Down by -58%)
- Wood: $27.6 million (Up by 53.1%)
- Copper: $17.4 million (Up by 122.7%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $7.7 million (Up by 35.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.8 million (Reversing a -$9.6 million deficit)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $564,000 (Reversing a -$1.3 million deficit)
Cuba has highly positive net exports in the international trade of tobacco and related products. In turn, these cashflows indicate Cuba’s strong competitive advantages under the tobacco and manufactured substitutes product category.
Products Causing Cuba’s Worst Trade Deficits
Overall, Cuba incurred an estimated -US$1.96 billion trade deficit for 2022. That negative balance represents a -26.6% decrease from -$2.67 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2021.
Below are exports from Cuba that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Cuba’s goods trail Cuban importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$417.3 million (Down by -20.7% since 2021)
- Meat: -$409.9 million (Up by 14.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$248.7 million (Down by -37.3%)
- Cereals: -$207.9 million (Down by -42%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$161.4 million (Down by -10%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$150.5 million (Up by 73.3%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$137.1 million (Up by 16.4%)
- Vehicles : -$125.6 million (Down by -25.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$100.5 million (Up by 0.5%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: -$77 million (Up by 15.8%)
Cuba has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category notably machinery parts, refrigerators and freezers, and centrifuges.
Cuban Export Companies
No Cuban corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Cuba. Selected examples are shown below.
- Cubana de Aviación (airline)
- Cubatabaco (tobacco)
- Cuba Petróleo Unión (oil, gas)
- Havana Club (rum)
- Modelo Brewery (beer)
One key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Cuba’s unemployment rate averaged 1.39% for 2022, down from an average 1.47% during 2021, according to Statista.
Cuba’s capital city is Havana.
See also Russia’s Top 10 Imports, Russia’s Top Trading Partners, Sugar Exports by Country and Beer Imports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on June 12, 2023
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 12, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 12, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 12, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 12, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Cuba. Accessed on June 12, 2023
Wikipedia, Cuba. Accessed on June 12, 2023
WorldOMeter, Cuba Population. Accessed on June 12, 2023