That dollar amount reflects a 20.4% increase since 2016 but a -9.4% drop from 2019 to 2020.
Ecuador’s official currency is US dollars.
The 5 biggest exported products from Ecuador are crude oil, crustaceans including lobsters, bananas and plantains, preserved or prepared fish and caviar, and fresh or dried flowers for bouquets or other ornamental purposes. Collectively, those 5 major goods represent 70.2% of Ecuador’s total exports by value.
Ecuador’s Key Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 77.6% of products exported from Ecuador were bought by importers in: United States (23.7% of the global total), China (15.8%), Panama (12%), Russia (4.5%), Chile (4%), Colombia (3.9%), Netherlands (2.8%), Spain (2.6%), Italy (2.5%), Peru (2.1%), Germany (2%) and Japan (1.7%).
From a continental perspective, 25.5% of Ecuador’s exports by value were delivered to importers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean while 24.8% were sold to customers in Asia. Ecuador shipped another 24.7% worth of goods to Asia. Another 23.6%. went to Europe.
Tinier percentages arrived in Africa (1.1%) and Oceania led by New Zealand and Australia (0.2%).
Ecuador’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Ecuadorian global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Ecuador.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$5.3 billion (26.2% of total exports)
- Fish: $4.2 billion (20.6%)
- Fruits, nuts: $3.9 billion (19.2%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $1.2 billion (5.9%)
- Cocoa: $935 million (4.6%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $845.7 million (4.2%)
- Wood: $822.2 million (4.1%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $539.8 million (2.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: $402 million (2%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $237.5 million (1.2%)
Ecuador’s top 10 exports accounted for 90.7% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag and ash was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 309.7% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales was gems and precious metals via a 96.9% gain led by much higher revenues for exported gold.
Ecuador’s shipments of wood posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 77.3%.
The leading decliner among Ecuador’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil, thanks to a -39.4% annual drop weighed down by lower sales of crude oil and, to a lesser extent, refined petroleum oils.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Ecuador’s most valuable exported products in 2020 is crude oil (23.2% of its overall total). In second place was lobsters including other crustaceans (19%) trailed by bananas and plantains (18.2%), preserved or prepared fish and caviar (5.8%), fresh or dried flowers (4.1%), cocoa beans (4%), refined petroleum oils (2.8%), sawn wood (2%) then gold (1.9%).
Overall Ecuador posted a $2.4 billion trade surplus for 2020, up 18.1% compared to $2.1 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Ecuadorian 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.
- Fish: US$4.1 billion (Down by -1.2% since 2019)
- Fruits, nuts: $3.7 billion (Up by 11.4%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2.5 billion (Down by -43%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $1.2 billion (Down by -0.9%)
- Cocoa: $898.2 million (Up by 24.9%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $824.2 million (Down by -4.8%)
- Wood: $780.1 million (Up by 92%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $537.7 million (Up by 313.8%)
- Gems, precious metals: $390 million (Up by 115.4%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $191.1 million (Up by 14%)
In addition to fish, fruits and nuts, Ecuador has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil and, to a much lesser extent, electricity under the mineral fuels-related category.
Below are exports from Ecuador that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Ecuador’s goods trail Ecuadorian importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$2 billion (Down by -5% since 2019)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.4 billion (Up by 21.6%)
- Vehicles: -$1.3 billion (Down by -9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$1 billion (Up by 8.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$744.2 million (Down by -15.2%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: -$654.9 million (Down by -5.1%)
- Other chemical goods: -$491.7 million (Up by 2.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$480.1 million (Down by -26.4%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$420.6 million (Up by 31.8%)
- Cereals: -$345.9 million (Down by -3.2%)
Ecuador has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery, but especially for computers.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Ecuador’s competitive disadvantages in the international machinery market, but also represent key opportunities for Ecuador to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Ecuadorian Export Companies
Not one Ecuadorian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list some exporters from Ecuador. Selected examples are shown below.
- Corporación Nacional de Telecomunicaciones–CNT EP (telecommunications)
- Marathon Sports (sport equipment)
- Ecua-Andino Hats (panama hats)
- Tiendas Industriales Asociadas S.A.–Tía S.A. (discount retailer)
- TAME EP Linea Aerea del Ecuador (airliner)
- Zhumir Latin Spirit (liquor)
In macroeconomic terms, Ecuador’s total exported goods represent 10.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($201.2 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 10.1% of exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 11% for 2019. Those percentages suggest a decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Ecuador’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Ecuador’s average unemployment rate was 5.267% for 2020, up from an average 3.84% one year earlier according to the International Monetary Fund.
Ecuador’s capital city is Quito.
See also Top South American Export Countries, Ecuador’s Top 10 Imports, Brazil’s Top 10 Exports and Argentina’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook South America: Ecuador. Accessed on July 17, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 17, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on July 17, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 17, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 17, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 17, 2021
Wikipedia, Ecuador. Accessed on July 17, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 17, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Ecuador. Accessed on July 17, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 17, 2021