At the detailed 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Egypt’s 5 most valuable exported products are gold, processed petroleum oils, crude oil, nitrogenous fertilizers and miscellaneous fresh or dried citrus fruits. Collectively, the 5 top exports represent almost a third (32.7%) of overall Egyptian shipments by value in 2020.
Egypt’s Major International Trade Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 53.8% of products exported from Egypt were bought by importers in: United Arab Emirates (10.7% of the global total), Saudi Arabia (6.4%), Turkey (6.2%), United States (5.5%), Italy (5.2%), India (4.6%), Spain (2.8%), United Kingdom (also 2.8%), Canada (2.6%), Greece (2.5%), China (2.2%) and Germany (2.1%).
From a continental perspective, 45.8% of Egypt’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 28.9% were sold to importers in Europe. Egypt shipped another 14.3% worth of goods to fellow trade partners in Africa.
Smaller percentages went to North America (8.3%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.8%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.9%).
Given Egypt’s population of 100.9 million people, its total $26.8 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $270 for every resident in the transcontinental nation.
Egypt’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Egyptian global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Egypt.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$4.7 billion (17.6% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $3 billion (11%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.7 billion (6.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.6 billion (5.8%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.5 billion (5.4%)
- Fertilizers: $1.2 billion (4.3%)
- Vegetables: $1 billion (3.9%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $891.8 million (3.3%)
- Iron, steel: $696.2 million (2.6%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $571.7 million (2.1%)
Egypt’s top 10 exports accounted for 62.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Gems and precious metals was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 44.3% from 2019 to 2020. That gain was propelled by higher Egyptian sales of gold on international markets.
The only other 2 increases year over year were for fruits and nuts (up 2.6%) and iron or steel as materials (up 0.3%).
The leading decliner among Egypt’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -41.8% annual drop, weighed down by lower revenues for both refined and crude petroleum oils and petroleum gas.
From the more granular 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, unwrought gold is the top export (10.9% of all Egyptian exported goods) during 2020. Close behind in second place were processed petroleum oils (10.8%) trailed by crude oil (4.5%), nitrogenous fertilizers (3.5%), fresh or dried miscellaneous citrus fruit (3%), television receivers, monitors and projectors (2.7%), insulated wire or cable (1.9%), petroleum gases (also 1.9%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits and trousers (1.6%) then knitted or crocheted t-shirts and vests.
The following types of Egyptian 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.
- Gems, precious metals: $2.7 billion (Up by 43.3% since 2019)
- Fertilizers: $978.3 million (Down by -12.3%)
- Fruits, nuts: $902.4 million (Up by 17.9%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $718.5 million (Down by -6.5%)
- Vegetables: $589.5 million (Up by 5.7%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $326.1 million (Up by 34.7%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $317.1 million (Up by 25.6%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $305.3 million (Down by -22.6%)
- Textile floor coverings: $295.1 million (Up by 46.3%)
- Glass: $294 million (Up by 7%)
Egypt has highly positive net exports in the international trade of gold and, to a lesser extent other precious metals including silver. In turn, these cashflows indicate Egypt’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals category.
Overall Egypt incurred a -$39.6 billion product trade deficit for 2020, down by -23.3% from the -$51.6 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Egypt that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Egypt’s goods trail Egyptian importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$5.1 billion (Down by -22.9% since 2019)
- Cereals: -$4.6 billion (Down by -12%)
- Vehicles: -$4.5 billion (Down by -1.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.4 billion (Down by -53.6%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$2.3 billion (Down by -20.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$2 billion (Down by -14.5%)
- Iron, steel: -$1.9 billion (Down by -34.3%)
- Meat: -$1.7 billion (Down by -20.5%)
- Oil seeds: -$1.6 billion (Down by -8.5%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.5 billion (Down by -35.4%)
Egypt has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers product category.
Egyptian Export Companies
One Egyptian regional bank ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2016, namely Cairo-based Commercial International Bank.
Wikipedia lists some exports-related companies from Egypt. Selected examples are shown below.
- ABU QIR Fertilizers and Chemicals Industries (nitrogen fertilizers)
- Al-Mansour Automotive (automobiles)
- Arab American Vehicles (automobiles)
- Arab Contractors (construction materials)
- BiscoMisr (baked products)
- Challenger Ltd (oil, gas)
- Corona (confectionery, chocolate)
- Egyptian Natural Gas (oil, gas)
- Egy-Tech Engineering (automobiles)
- Juhayna (beverages, yogurt)
In macroeconomic terms, Egypt’s total exported goods represent 2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($1.346 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 1.8% for 2019. Those metrics suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Egypt’s total economic performance, albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Egypt’s average unemployment rate was 8.296% for 2020, down from an average 8.612% one year earlier according to data from the International Monetary Fund.
Egypt’s capital city is Cairo.
See also Uganda’s Top 10 Exports, Somalia’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
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