That dollar amount reflects a 137.1% increase since 2016 and a 5.4% uptick from 2019 to 2020.
Greenland’s 5 biggest exported products by value are crustaceans including lobsters, frozen whole fish, fish fillets and pieces, and fishing vessels or factor ships. Collectively, those 5 leading export categories represent 94.4% of Greenland’s total revenues. So high a percentages indicates an intensely concentrated set of exported goods specific to fishing-related businesses.
The latest available country-specific data from 2018 shows that 92.3% of products exported from Greenland were bought by importers in: Denmark (85.3% of the global total), Latvia (3.7%), Portugal (0.9%), Russia (0.7%), Iceland (0.6%), Faroe Islands (0.4%), Norway (0.3%), Thailand (also 0.3%) and Spain (0.1%).
Given Greenland’s population of 56,770 people its total $1.364 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $24,000 for every resident living on the island.
Greenland’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Greenlandic global shipments during 2020, 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 Greenland.
- Fish: US$1.1 billion (79.9% of total exports)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $209.1 million (15.3%)
- Ships, boats: $27.4 million (2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $12.1 million (0.9%)
- Machinery including computers: $3 million (0.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.9 million (0.1%)
- Iron, steel: $1 million (0.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $776,000 (0.1%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $654,000 (0.05%)
- Wool: $538,000 (0.04%)
Greenland’s top 10 exports accounted for 98.7% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Pharmaceuticals represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 12,833% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment via a 2,709% gain.
Greenland’s shipments of machinery including computers posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 485.2%.
The leading decliner among Greenland’s top 10 export categories was miscellaneous animal-origin products, thanks to a -2.5% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, crustaceans including lobsters represents Greenland’s most valuable exported product at 35.4% of its overall total. Close behind in second place were frozen whole fish (35%) trailed by preserved or prepared crustaceans and molluscs (15.2%), fish fillets and pieces (6.8%), fishing vessels and factory ships (1.9%), dried, salted or smoked fish (also 1.9%), then phone system devices including smartphones (0.4%).
Greenland generated an estimated $565.9 million product trade surplus in 2020, up 102.5% from $279.5 million in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Greenlandic 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$1.1 billion (Up by 4.1% since 2019)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $196.2 million (Up by 7.9%)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.3 million (Up by 211%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $651,000 (Up by 40%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $223,000 (Down by -43.1%)
- Furskins, artificial fur: $209,000 (Up by 4.5%)
- Wool: $113,000 (Down by -34.3%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $57,000 (Up by 29.5%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1,000 (2019 data unavailable)
Greenland has highly positive net exports in the international trade of fish-related categories. In turn, these cashflows indicate Greenland’s strong competitive advantages notably under the fish product category as well as meat/seafood preparations.
Below are exports from Greenland that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Greenland’s goods trail Greenlandic importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: US-$100.9 million (Up by 6.6% since 2019)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$81.4 million (Down by -45.7%)
- Ships, boats: -$58.6 million (Down by -75.6%)
- Vehicles: -$38.1 million (Up by 4.1%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$35.2 million (Up by 33%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$23.8 million (Down by -33.4%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$22.5 million (Down by -16.9%)
- Meat: -$20.4 million (Up by 5.9%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$18.9 million (Up by 20.4%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: -$18.6 million (Up by 6.7%)
Greenland has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers product category.
Greenlandic Export Companies
Not one corporation based in Greenland ranks on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
Wikipedia lists some exports-related companies from Greenland. Selected examples are shown below.
- Great Greenland Furhouse (fur clothing)
- Greenland Brewhouse (beer)
- Nunaoil (oil, gas)
- Royal Greenland (fish)
Greenland’s unemployment rate was 1.9% at August 2021, down from 3.9% in October 2020 according to YCharts’ online statistics portal.
Greenland’s capital city is Nuuk.
See also France’s Top 10 Exports, Italy’s Top 10 Exports and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook North America: Greenland. Accessed on October 3, 2021
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Greenland. Accessed on October 3, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 3, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 3, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on October 3, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 3, 2021
Wikipedia, Greenland. Accessed on October 3, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on October 3, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Greenland. Accessed on October 3, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on October 3, 2021
WorldOMeter, Greenland Population.