That dollar amount reflects a 13.2% increase compared to the $10.7 billion worth of exported goods in 2016, but a -28.1% decline from 2019 to 2020.
Ghana’s top 5 exported products are gold, crude oil, cocoa beans, cocoa paste, then cashew nuts and coconuts. Collectively, those key product categories represent almost four-fifths (79.1%) of Ghana’s revenues from exporting goods during 2020.
The latest available country-specific data from 2019 shows that 82.8% of products exported from Ghana were bought by importers in: China (16.7% of Ghana’s global total), Switzerland (14.7%), India (14.2%), South Africa (11.8%), Netherlands (5.8%), United Arab Emirates (5.4%), United States (4.2%), United Kingdom (2.5%), France (2.2%), Italy (1.8%), Japan (also 1.8%) and Burkina Faso (1.7%).
From a continental perspective, 43.4% of Ghana’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 32.9% were sold to importers in Europe. Ghana shipped another 17.7% worth of goods to fellow African trade partners.
Smaller percentages went to North America (5.8%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.2%), and Oceania’s New Zealand and Australia (0.1%).
Given Ghana’s population of 30.8 million people, its total $12.1 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $400 for every resident in the West African country.
Ghana’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Ghanaian global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Ghana.
- Gems, precious metals: US$4.3 billion (36.1% of total exports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $3.2 billion (26.5%)
- Cocoa: $2.3 billion (19.1%)
- Fruits, nuts: $519.2 million (4.3%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $348.5 million (2.9%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $248.6 million (2.1%)
- Wood: $175.6 million (1.5%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $135.3 million (1.1%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $101.2 million (0.8%)
- Aluminum: $81.9 million (0.7%)
Ghana’s top 10 exports accounted for 95.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Rubber, including both items made from rubber and the material itself, represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories via its 50.8% gain from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales were fruits and nuts, thanks to a 41.4% improvement.
Up by 40% in value, Ghana’s shipments of wood posted the third-fastest acceleration.
The leading decliner among Ghana’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil, decelerating by -39.8% year over year and weighed down by much lower global revenues for crude oil.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Ghana’s most valuable export product is gold (35.8% of the global total). In second place is crude oil (24.8%) trailed by cocoa beans (11.9%), cocoa paste (3.5%), cashew nuts and coconuts (3.1%), cocoa butter and oil (2.7%), manganese ores or concentrates (2.1%), prepared fish including caviar (1.1%), fixed vegetable fats or oils (0.9%) and palm oil (also 0.9%).
The following types of Ghanaian 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: US$4.3 billion (Down by -30.2% since 2019)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2.4 billion (Down by -51.7%)
- Cocoa: $2.3 billion (Down by -15.6%)
- Fruits, nuts: $488 million (Up by 35.9%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $345.6 million (Down by -10.5%)
- Wood: $134 million (Reversing a -$172.1 million deficit)
- Lead: $25.8 million (Up by 60.8%)
- Vegetables: $21.7 million (Reversing a -$2 million deficit)
- Copper: $13.1 million (Reversing an -$11.6 million deficit)
- Plaiting products, basketware, wickerwork: $5.2 million (Up by 320.5%)
Ghana has highly positive net exports in the international trade of gold and, to much lesser degrees, diamonds and precious-metal scrap. In turn, these cashflows indicate Ghana’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals product category.
Overall Ghana incurred an estimated -$3.5 billion product trade deficit for 2020. That deficit represents a -155.2% reduction in red ink from one year earlier.
Below are exports from Ghana that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Ghana’s goods trail Ghanaian importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$1.7 billion (Up by 29.3% since 2019)
- Vehicles: -$1.4 billion (Down by -19.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.1 billion (Up by 69.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$819.9 million (Up by 197.7%)
- Iron, steel: -$599.4 million (Up by 95%)
- Cereals: -$579.8 million (Up by 10.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$579.6 million (Up by 57.8%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: -$339.8 million (Up by 280.9%)
- Other chemical goods: -$332.1 million (Up by 48.2%)
- Meat: -$326.3 million (Up by 253.3%)
Ghana has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers product category.
Ghanaian Export Companies
Not one Ghanaian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists some exports-related companies from Ghana. Selected examples are shown below.
- Accra Brewery Company (beer)
- African Champion Industries (paper)
- Aluworks (aluminum)
- Ayrton Drugs (pharmaceuticals)
- CFAO Ghana (automobiles)
- Cocoa Processing Company (cocao beans)
- Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (oil, gas)
- Kuapa Kokoo (cocao)
- Pioneer Kitchenware (household goods)
- Printex (textiles)
In macroeconomic terms, Ghana’s total exported goods represent 6.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($186.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 6.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 6.6% for 2019. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Ghana’s total economic performance, albeit based on relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Ghana’s average unemployment rate was 4.5% for 2020, up from 4.1% in 2019 per Trading Economics.
Ghana’s capital city is Accra.
See also South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports, Angola’s Top 10 Exports, Top African Export Countries and China’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: Ghana. Accessed on July 9, 2021
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Ghana. Accessed on July 9, 2021
Forbes 2020 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 9, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 9, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 9, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 9, 2021
Wikipedia, Ghana. Accessed on July 9, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 9, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Ghana. Accessed on July 9, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 9, 2021
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Accra, Ghana. Accessed on July 9, 2021