Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Mozambican metical depreciated by -10.6% against the US dollar since 2016 and declined by -11.1% from 2019 to 2020. Mozambique’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 82.7% of products exported from Mozambique were bought by importers in: South Africa (21.1% of the global total), India (12.2%), United Kingdom (10.8%), China (7.4%), Italy (6.9%), Netherlands (6.7%), Belgium (3.5%), Singapore (3.5%), Zimbabwe (3.2%), Spain (3.1%), South Korea (2.3%) and Vietnam (2%).
From a continental perspective, 36.9% of Mozambique exports by value were delivered to European countries while 31.6% were sold to Asian importers. Mozambique shipped another 27.8% worth of goods to Africa. Smaller percentages went to North American (2.2%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.3%).
Given Mozambique’s population of 32 million people, its total $3.5 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $100 for every resident in the southeast African nation.
Mozambique’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Mozambican global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Mozambique.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.3 billion (36.4% of total exports)
- Aluminum: $1.1 billion (30.6%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $238 million (6.9%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $162.3 million (4.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: $126 million (3.6%)
- Oil seeds: $86.4 million (2.5%)
- Vegetables: $59.1 million (1.7%)
- Fish: $48.6 million (1.4%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $47 million (1.4%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $44.3 million (1.3%)
Mozambique’s top 10 exports are concentrated, representing 90.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Aluminum was the slowest decliner among the top 10 export categories, down by -0.2% from 2019 to 2020.
The severest decliner among Mozambique’s top 10 export categories was sugar including sugar confectionery thanks to a -51.5% drop year over year.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Mozambique’s most valuable exported goods are raw aluminum (28% of the total), coal including solid fuels made from coal (17.1%), electrical energy (10.7%), petroleum gases (6.7%), titanium ores and concentrates (5.2%), unmanufactured tobacco including waste (4.7%), cashews (2.3%) and aluminum wire (2.1%).
The following types of Mozambican 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.
- Aluminum: US$1 billion (Up by 4.9% since 2019)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $281.2 million (Down by -34.9%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $222.8 million (Down by -12%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $148.4 million (Down by -31.1%)
- Fruits, nuts: $118.1 million (Down by -9.9%)
- Oil seeds: $75.6 million (Down by -14.4%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $38.8 million (Up by 45.4%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $37.1 million (Down by -51.5%)
- Cotton: $16.5 million (Down by -51%)
- Vegetables: $13.5 million (Down by -67.1%)
Mozambique has highly positive net exports in the international trade of aluminum. In turn, these cashflows indicate Mozambique’s strong competitive advantages under the aluminum product category.
Mozambique incurred an overall trade deficit of -$3 billion during 2020, up by 2.1% from -$2.9 billion one year earlier.
Below are exports from Mozambique that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Mozambique’s goods trail Mozambican importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$738.2 million (Down by -23% since 2018)
- Cereals: -$517 million (Up by 7.1%)
- Vehicles: -$437 million (Down by -25.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$364.4 million (Down by -19%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$291.8 million (Down by -12.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$282.9 million (Up by 34.1%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$211.3 million (Up by 4.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$194.4 million (Down by -7.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$163.9 million (Down by -17.4%)
- Iron, steel: -$129.5 million (Down by -22.4%)
Mozambique has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery, notably heavy-duty industrial machines and computers.
Mozambican Export Companies
Not one corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list a handful of companies from Mozambique that engage as players in international trade. Selected examples are shown below.
- Beira Railroad Corporation (port-access railroads)
- Illovo Sugar Limited (raw and refined sugar)
- Mozal (aluminum smelter)
- Telecomunicações de Moçambique (telecommunications, internet services)
In macroeconomic terms, Mozambique’s total exported goods represent 8.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($40.9 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 8.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 11.6% one year earlier. This seems to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Mozambique’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Mozambique’s unemployment rate was an average 28% in 2020, up from 25.04% three years earlier according to Trading Economics.
Mozambique’s capital city is Maputo.
See also Top African Export Countries, Top South African Trading Partners and Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, Country Profiles, The World Factbook. Accessed on March 7, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 7, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 7, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 7, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 7, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 7, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 7, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Mozambique. Accessed on March 7, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 3, 2020