That estimated dollar amount results from a 31.5% increase from $30 billion five years earlier in 2018.
Year over year, overall revenues from Libyan export sales in 2022 accelerated by 19.6% compared to $33 billion during 2021.
Libya’s top 3 most valuable exported goods are crude oil, petroleum gases, then processed petroleum oils. Added together, that trio of lucrative energy products generated 93.3% of total Libyan export sales on global markets.
Libya’s Top Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 91.6% of products exported from Libya were bought by importers in: Italy (33.2% of Libya’s global total), mainland China (22.5%), Spain (11.6%), France (5%), United Arab Emirates (4.1%), United States of America (2.7%), Denmark (2.5%), Greece (2.4%), Netherlands (2.3%), Australia (1.9%), Thailand (1.7%) and Turkey (1.6%).
Applying a continental perspective, 61.5% of Libya’s exports by value was delivered to European countries while 32.5% were sold to importers in Asia. Libya shipped another 3% worth of goods to North America.
Smaller percentages went to Oceania’s Australia only (1.9%), Africa (0.6%), then Latin America (0.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Given Libya’s population of 6.8 million people, its total $39.5 billion in 2022 exports translates to roughly $5,800 for every resident in the North African country. That dollar metric exceeds the average $4,700 per capita one year earlier in 2021.
Libya’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Libyan global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Libya.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$38.1 billion (96.4% of total exports)
- Iron, steel: $549.9 million (1.4%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $195.1 million (0.5%)
- Copper: $153.6 million (0.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $138.2 million (0.3%)
- Fertilizers: $113 million (0.3%)
- Aluminum: $89.7 million (0.2%)
- Ships, boats: $60.1 million (0.15%)
- Fish: $42 million (0.11%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $19.9 million (0.05%)
Libya’s top 10 exports accounted for 99.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ships and boats was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 38,897% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving export sales were inorganic chemicals, via a 132.1% advance.
Libya’s shipments of fish posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 64.1%.
The leading decliner among Libya’s top 10 export categories was gems and precious metals, pulled down by a -41.9% year-over-year drop.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, crude oil represents Libya’s most valuable exported product at 82.5% of the country’s total. In second place were petroleum gases (8.5%) trailed by processed petroleum oils (2%), iron or steel scrap (0.7%), ammonia (0.5%), iron ore reduced products (also 0.5%), copper scrap (0.4%), unwrought gold (0.3%), nitrogenous fertilizers (also 0.3%), then aluminum scrap (0.2%).
Products Driving Libya’s Best Trade Surpluses
Overall Libya posted an estimated $22.2 billion surplus for 2022, expanding by 45.1% from $15.3 billion in black ink in 2021.
The following types of Libyan 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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$32.6 billion (Up by 14% since 2021)
- Iron, steel: $325.1 million (Down by -20.6%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $178.3 million (Up by 181.6%)
- Copper: $141.6 million (Up by 5.6%)
- Fertilizers: $92.1 million (Up by 77.3%)
- Ships, boats: $55.8 million (Reversing a -$15.5 million deficit)
- Fish: $29.4 million (Up by 374.1%)
- Lead: $12.6 million (Up by 31.7%)
- Woodpulp: $7.7 million (Up by 12.7%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $2.7 million (Down by -4.1%)
Libya has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Libya’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil product category.
Products Causing Libya’s Worst Trade Deficits
Below are exports from Libya that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Libya’s goods trail Libyan importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$1.2 billion (Down by -12.7% since 2021)
- Vehicles: -$924.1 million (Down by -12.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$863.3 million (Down by -45.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$558.2 million (Down by -0.8%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$395.2 million (Down by -18.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$380.9 million (Down by -29.8%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$359 million (Down by -18.1%)
- Cereals: -$326.1 million (Down by -60.6%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$311.4 million (Up by 7.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$282.1 million (Down by -8.9%)
Libya has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category.
Libyan Export Companies
Not one Libyan corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Libya. Selected examples are shown below.
- Arabian Cement Co. (construction materials)
- Arabian Gulf Oil Company (oil, gas)
- Brega Marketing Company (oil, gas)
- Challenger LTD (oil, gas)
- General National Maritime Transport Company (industrial transportation)
- Jowfe Oil Technology (oil, gas)
- Libyan Cement Company (construction materials)
- Libyan Iron and Steel Company (basic materials)
- National Oil Corporation (oil, gas)
- Oilibya (oil, gas)
- RASCO (oil, gas)
- Sirte Oil Company (oil, gas)
- Tamoil (oil, gas)
- Waha Oil Company (oil, gas)
In macroeconomic terms, Libya’s total exported goods represent 28.6% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($138 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 28.6% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 27.9% for 2021. Those metrics suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Libya’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Libya’s unemployment rate averaged 20.7% for 2022, up from an average 20.6% in 2021 according to Trading Economics.
Libya’s capital city is Tripoli, nicknamed by local residents as “Bride of the Sea” or “Mermaid”.
See also Crude Oil Exports by Country, Top 10 Exports from Cyprus, Malta’s Top 10 Exports
Al Jazeera, Libyan fighting reaches streets of Tripoli (August 21, 2011). Accessed on September 1, 2023
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on September 1, 2023
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 1, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 1, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 1, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 1, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on September 1, 2023
Wikipedia, Libya. Accessed on September 1, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Libya. Accessed on September 1, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on September 1, 2023