Previously called Spanish Honduras thus distinguishing the Central American republic from British Honduras (now Belize), Honduras shares its western border with Guatemala, southwest border with El Salvador and southeast border with El Salvador. The republic’s south coastline is along the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca while the Honduran north coastline is surrounded by the Gulf of Honduras, a large Caribbean Sea inlet.
At the detailed 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, the top 5 exported products from Honduras were worth 43.5% of the Central American country’s overall export sales. The 5 most valuable Honduran exports are coffee, knitted or crocheted t-shirts or vests, knitted or crocheted jerseys including pullovers, insulated wire or cable, and palm oil.
Honduras Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data from 2019 shows that 69.7% of products exported from Honduras were bought by importers in: the United States of America (33.3% of the global total), Germany (6.8%), El Salvador (6.3%), Nicaragua (4.4%), Guatemala (3.9%), Belgium (3.7%), Netherlands (2.9%), Costa Rica (2.6%), Mexico (2%), Italy (1.5%), United Kingdom (1.2%) and France (1.1%).
From a continental perspective, 38.8% of Honduras’ exports by value were delivered to fellow countries in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean while 36.2% were sold to importers in North America. Honduras shipped another 20.7% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Asia (2.9%), Oceania mostly Australia (1%) and Africa (0.4%).
Given Honduras population of 9.9 million people, its total $8.3 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $840 for every resident in the Central American country.
Honduras Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Honduran global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Honduras.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$2.2 billion (26.3% of total exports)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $1.1 billion (13%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $567.2 million (6.8%)
- Fruits, nuts: $554.5 million (6.7%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $488.4 million (5.9%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $425.4 million (5.1%)
- Fish: $337.8 million (4.1%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $181.2 million (2.2%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $169 million (2%)
- Vegetables: $161.7 million (1.9%)
Honduras’s top 10 exports accounted for 74.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Knitted or crocheted clothing and accessories was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 66,185% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales were unknitted and non-crocheted clothing and accessories via a 11,452% gain.
Honduran shipments of miscellaneous textiles and worn clothing posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 6,791%.
In 2020, Honduras’ most valuable exported products were coffee (12.9% of the country’s global total), knitted or crocheted t-shirts and vests (10.6%), knitted or crocheted jerseys including pullovers (9.9%), insulated wire or cable (6%), palm oil (4.1%), bananas including plantains (3.4%), crustaceans including lobsters (3%), melons, watermelons and papayas (2.4%), unknitted and non-crocheted garments from special fabric (1.9%) then cigars, cigarellos and cigarettes (1.8%).
The following types of Honduran 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.
- Knitted or crocheted clothing, accessories: US$1.9 billion (Reversing a -$45 million deficit in 2019)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $1.1 billion (Up by 11.9%)
- Fruits, nuts: $479.3 million (Up by 41.7%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $443.8 million (Reversing a -$74.4 million deficit)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $355.6 million (Up by 207.2%)
- Fish: $335.5 million (Up by 86.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $153.6 million (Up by 31.7%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $134.9 million (Up by 253.9%)
- Vegetables: $124.5 million (Up by 219.9%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $60.6 million (Down by -15%)
The Honduras has highly positive net exports in the international trade of knitted or crocheted clothing and accessories. In turn, these cashflows indicate Honduras’ strong competitive advantages under that product category.
Honduras incurred an estimated -$1.2 billion trade deficit for 2020, down -78.7% from -$6.1 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Honduras that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Honduras’ goods trail Honduran importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$819.1 million (Down by -49.6% since 2019)
- Machinery including computers: -$556.7 million (Down by -13.3%)
- Cotton: -$516.1 million (Up by 5,040%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$410.7 million (Up by 13.1%)
- Manmade staple fibers: -$343.3 million (Up by 3,586%)
- Vehicles: -$277.9 million (Down by -56.8%)
- Cereals: -$251.2 million (Down by -5.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$249.3 million (Down by -49.8%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: -$248.6 million (Down by -3.9%)
- Paper, paper items: -$219.4 million (Up by 6.3%)
Honduras has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits notably for refined petroleum oils, cotton yarn excluding sewing thread, and smartphones.
These cashflow deficiencies also indicate Honduras’ competitive disadvantages in the processed fossil fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for Honduras to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations especially for alternative energy.
Honduran Export Companies
Not one Honduran corporation ranks among the companies showcased by the Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list companies from Honduras that engage in international business pursuits. Selected examples are shown below.
- AeroCaribe de Honduras (airliner)
- Aerolíneas Sosa (airliner)
- InterAirports (international airports administrator)
- New York and Honduras Rosario Mining Company (gold, silver)
- Tegu (toys)
In macroeconomic terms, Honduras’ total exported goods represent 15.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($54.2 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 15.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 17.1% for 2019. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Honduras’ total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Honduras’ average unemployment rate was 10.9% in 2020, almost doubling the 5.7% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Tegucigalpa is the Honduran capital city.
See also Honduras Top 10 Imports, Coffee Exports by Country, Bananas Exports by Country and Palm Oil Exports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on July 16, 2021
Forbes, 2016 Global 2000 rankingsThe World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 16, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 16, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 16, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 16, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 16, 2021
Wikipedia, Honduras. Accessed on July 16, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Honduras. Accessed on July 16, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 16, 2021