Year over year, Ethiopia’s most recent dollar amount represents a 21.7% surge from $2.5 billion in 2020.
Ethiopia’s 3 top export products by value in 2021 were coffee, oil seeds and miscellaneous fresh or chilled vegetables. In aggregate, that trio of major exported goods accounted for almost three-fifths (58.4%) of Ethiopia’s overall exports sales. Such a high percentage suggests an intensely concentrated range of exported Ethiopian goods.
Ethiopia’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 72% of products exported from Ethiopia were bought by importers in: Somalia (11.8% of Ethiopia’s global total), United States of America (10.8%), Germany (8%), Netherlands (7.5%), Saudi Arabia (7%), United Arab Emirates (6.2%), Belgium (4.3%), Japan (3.47%), Israel (3.46%), Djibouti (3.4%), India (3.3%) and South Korea (2.8%).
From a continental perspective, 40.7% of Ethiopia’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 27.4% were sold to importers in Europe. Ethiopia shipped another 19.1% worth of goods to Africa, with another 11.5% went to North America.
Smaller percentages went to Oceania (1.1%) mostly Australia and New Zealand, then Latin America (0.1%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Given Ethiopia’s population of 99.7 million people, its total $3.1 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $30 for every resident in the northeast African nation. That dollar amount exceeds the average $25 per capita one year earlier during 2020.
Ethiopia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Ethiopian global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Ethiopia.
- Coffee, tea, spices: US$1.2 billion (39.6% of total exports)
- Vegetables: $648.6 million (21.2%)
- Oil seeds: $407.2 million (13.3%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $290.2 million (9.5%)
- Meat: $94.1 million (3.1%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $80.2 million (2.6%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $62.7 million (2.1%)
- Live animals: $33.6 million (1.1%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $28.7 million (0.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $24.5 million (0.8%)
Ethiopia’s top 10 exports accounted for 94.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Coffee, tea and spices was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 49% from 2020 to 2021. Coffee was the leading percentage gainer.
In second place for improving export sales was meat via a 41.3% advance.
Ethiopia’s shipments of live trees, plants and cut flowers posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 33.9%.
The leading decliner among Ethiopia’s top 10 export categories was electrical machinery and equipment, thanks to a -30.3% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, coffee represents Ethiopia’s most valuable exported product at 38.9% of the country’s total. In second place were oil seeds (10.6%) trailed by miscellaneous fresh or chilled vegetables (8.8%), fresh or dried flowers for bouquets or ornamental purposes (8.3%), dried shelled vegetables (6.2%), sweet potatoes and similar root vegetables (4.2%), sheep or goat meat (3%), soya beans (1.4%), miscellaneous live plants (1.2%) then unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits or trousers (0.9%).
Products Attracting Ethiopia’s Largest Trade Surpluses
The following types of Ethiopian 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.
- Coffee, tea, spices: US$1.2 billion (Up by 49.5% since 2020)
- Vegetables: $495.7 million (Up by 13.6%)
- Oil seeds: $388.2 million (Down by -8.2%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $285.8 million (Up by 34.2%)
- Meat: $93.1 million (Up by 41.1%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $51.7 million (Up by 8.7%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $28.6 million (Up by 4.6%)
- Live animals: $24.7 million (Down by -28.1%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $6.3 million (Up by 13.7%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $1.8 million (Up by 24.2%)
Ethiopia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of coffee. In turn, these cashflows indicate Ethiopia’s strong competitive advantages under the coffee, tea and spices product category.
Products Causing Ethiopia’s Worst Trade Deficits
Ethiopia incurred an overall -$12.2 billion trade deficit during 2021, resulting from a 5.5% expansion from the -$11.6 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2020.
Below are exports from Ethiopia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Ethiopia’s goods trail its importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$1.73 billion (Down by -4.1% since 2020)
- Cereals: -$1.67 billion (Up by 94.7%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$1.4 billion (Up by 55.8%)
- Vehicles: -$1.2 billion (Up by 15.9%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$1.1 billion (Down by -36.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$984.4 million (Down by -6.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$810.1 million (Up by 40%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$668.1 million (Up by 5.5%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$592.7 million (Up by 70.5%)
- Fertilizers: -$590.9 million (Up by 16.5%)
Ethiopia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category as well as mineral fuels including oil.
Ethiopian Export Companies
Given that Ethiopia is an emerging economy, it should come as no surprise that not one Ethiopian corporation appears on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
Wikipedia does document some Ethiopian export companies. Selected examples are shown below.
- Ambo Mineral Water (bottled mineral water)
- Ethio Telecom (mobile, fixed line, broadband services)
- Marathon Motors Engineering (automobiles)
- Yebbo Communication Network (software, websites)
- Yousran International (sesame seeds, spice seeds, edible oils)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are examples of Ethiopian exporters representing diverse industries.
- A Oil Seeds and Cereals Export (beans including kidney beans)
- Haicof Limited (coffee)
- Harar Brewery Share (malt beer)
- Max Export (polypropylene)
- Packtra (polyesters, lamps)
In macroeconomic terms, Ethiopia’s total exported goods represent 1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($312.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 0.9% for 2021. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Ethiopia’s total economic performance, albeit based on relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Egypt’s unemployment rate averaged 3.7% for 2021, up from 3.2% one year earlier in 2020 per the World Data Atlas.
Ethiopia’s capital city is Addis Ababa.
See also Ethiopia’s Top Trading Partners, Ethiopia’s Top 10 Imports, China’s Top Trading Partners, India’s Top Trading Partners and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on July 11, 2022
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 11, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 11, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 11, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 11, 2022
The World Bank, Official Exchange Rate (LCU per US$, period average) – Ethiopia. Accessed on July 11, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Ethiopia. Accessed on July 11, 2022
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on July 11, 2022