That dollar amount results from a 53.3% increase compared to $4.64 billion during 2018.
Year over year, the value of El Salvador’s exports grew by 25.7% compared to $5.7 billion during 2021.
Please note that El Salvador adopted the US dollar as its official currency in 2001.
El Salvador’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 94.3% of products exported from El Salvador were bought by importers in: United States of America (39.2% of El Salvador’s global total), Guatemala (17.1%), Honduras (16.7%), Nicaragua (7%), Costa Rica (4.3%), Mexico (2.7%), Panama (2%), Dominican Republic (1.6%), Germany (1.3%), Canada (1%), Spain (0.8%) and Italy (0.7%).
From a continental perspective, about half (50.7% of Salvadoran exports by value was delivered to importers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. El Salvador shipped another 42.9% worth of goods to North American countries with 4.3% sold to buyers in Europe and 1.8% going to customers in Asia.
Tinier percentages were sold to buyers in Oceania (0.12%) led by Australia and 0.06% bought by importers in Africa.
Given El Salvador’s population of 6.34 million people, its total $7.12 billion in 2022 exports translates to roughly $1,100 for every resident in the Central American country. That dollar metric exceeds the average $870 per capita one year earlier during 2021.
El Salvador’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Salvadoran 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 El Salvador.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$2.1 billion (28.9% of total exports)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $603.2 million (8.5%)
- Paper, paper items: $418.4 million (5.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $418.2 million (5.9%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $340.9 million (4.8%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $312.8 million (4.4%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $183.6 million (2.6%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $178.5 million (2.5%)
- Iron, steel: $174.2 million (2.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $169.4 million (2.4%)
El Salvador’s top 10 exports accounted for over two-thirds (68.2%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Electrical machinery and equipment was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 394.6% since 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was knitted or crocheted clothing and accessories which rose 69%.
El Salvador’s shipments under the coffee, tea and spices product category realized the third-fastest gain in value, up by 42.9% year over year.
The leading decliner among El Salvador’s top 10 export categories was pharmaceuticals, dragged down by a -19% reduction.
Drilling down to the more detailed 4-digit HTS codes, El Salvador’s top 10 most valuable exports are knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (11.5% of El Salvador’s total), knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (7.4%), plastic packing goods including lids and caps (4.4%), electrical capacitators (3.7%), sugar (3.2%), tissues or napkins and toilet paper (3%), coffee (2.5%), knitted or crocheted stockings and hosiery (2.3%), medication mixes in dosage (2.2%), and processed petroleum oils (2.1%).
Products Driving El Salvador’s Best Trade Surpluses
The following types of Salvadoran 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.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$1.5 billion (Up by 46.5% since 2021)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $271.1 million (Down by -3.5%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $164.9 million (Up by 49.9%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $60.6 million (Up by 44.4%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $18 million (Up by 149.8%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $10 million (Down by -19.5%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $4.6 million (Down by -64.3%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1.4 million (Up by 33.8%)
- Lead: $1 million (Down by -124.5%)
- Live animals: $387,000 (Down by -86.2%)
El Salvador has highly positive net exports in the international trade of apparel well ahead of sugar and coffee, partially due to the country’s low-cost labor force. In turn, these cashflows indicate El Salvador’s strong competitive advantages under the clothing, sugar and coffee product categories.
Products Causing El Salvador’s Worst Trade Surpluses
El Salvador incurred an overall -$9.992 billion deficit in 2022, flatlining by 0.1% from -$9.987 billion in red ink one year earlier for 2021.
Below are exports from El Salvador that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country El Salvador’s goods trail Salvadoran importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$2.5 billion (Up by 17.4% since 2021)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.1 billion (Down by -3.2%)
- Vehicles : -$907.8 million (Up by 48.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$685.1 million (Down by -32.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$509.4 million (Up by 16.5%)
- Cereals: -$473.4 million (Up by 13.6%)
- Iron, steel: -$415.8 million (Down by -5.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$408.1 million (Down by -50.6%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: -$269.6 million (Up by 17.7%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$266.9 million (Up by 18.7%)
El Salvador has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits notably for refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases under the mineral fuels including oil product category.
Salvadoran Export Companies
No Salvadoran corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exporters from El Salvador. Selected examples are shown below.
- Empresas ADOC (shoes)
- Gpremper (internet technology)
- TACA Airlines (airliner)
- Unicomer Group (international retailer)
In macroeconomic terms, El Salvador’s total exported goods represent 10.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($69.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 10.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 8.9% for 2021. Those percentages suggest an increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for El Salvador’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. El Salvador’s unemployment rate averaged 5.8% for 2022, down from an average 6.3% in 2021, based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund.
El Salvador’s capital city is San Salvador.
See also Sugar Exports by Country, Honduras Top 10 Exports, Guatemala’s Top 10 Trading Partners, Nicaragua’s Top 10 Exports and Belize’s Top 10 Exports Plus Major Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on April 14, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 14, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity)
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 14, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 14, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 14, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of El Salvador. Accessed on April 14, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 14, 2023