That estimated dollar amount reflects an -18.3% decrease since 2017 when Namibian exports totaled $5.18 billion.
Year over year, the value of Namibia’s exported goods fell by -22% compared to $5.42 billion for 2020.
Namibia’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 87% of products exported from Namibia were bought by importers in: mainland China (36% of Namibia’s global total), South Africa (15.3%), Botswana (8.5%), Belgium (5.5%), Spain (4.9%), Zambia (4.5%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (2.8%), Germany (2.5%), United Arab Emirates (2.1%), Netherlands (1.9%), Italy (1.6%) and Hong Kong (1.5%).
From a continental perspective, 43.4% of Namibia’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 33.2% were sold to importers in fellow African nations. Namibia shipped another 20.3% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to North America (2.8%), Latin America (0.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.1%) led by Australia.
Given Namibia’s population of 2.55 million people, its total $4.23 billion in 2021 exports translates to an estimated $1,660 for every resident in the southwest African country. That dollar metric compares to an average $2,150 per capita calculated for one year earlier during 2020.
Namibia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Namibian global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Namibia.
- Gems, precious metals: US$890.6 million (21% of total exports)
- Fish: $694 million (16.4%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $599.7 million (14.2%)
- Copper: $588.3 million (13.9%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $264 million (6.2%)
- Ships, boats: $245.7 million (5.8%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $133.3 million (3.1%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $128.1 million (3%)
- Live animals: $101.5 million (2.4%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $78.2 million (1.8%)
Namibia’s top 10 exports accounted for 88.0% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Aircraft and spacecraft was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 3,316% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales were inorganic chemicals via a 677.2% advance.
Namibia’s shipments of ships and boats posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 300.7%.
The leading decliner among Namibia’s top 10 export categories was ores, slag and ash thanks to a -82.4% annualized drop.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, radioactive chemical elements represent Namibia’s most valuable exported product at 14.2% of the country’s total. In second place was unrefined copper (12.8%) trailed by gold (10.4%), unset diamonds (also 10.4%), fish fillets plus other pieces (8%), frozen whole fish (6.7%), aircraft or spacecraft (6.2%), light vessels including fireboats (5.6%), asphalt or petroleum bitumen mixes (2.3%), then zinc ores or concentrates (2.2%).
Products Generating Namibia’s Best Trade Surpluses
The following types of Namibian 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$876.9 million (Down by -18.9% since 2020)
- Fish: $664.5 million (Up by 19.8%)
- Copper: $582.5 million (Up by 235.8%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $564.5 million (Reversing a -$72.8 million deficit)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $250.6 million (Reversing a -$2.4 million deficit)
- Live animals: $99.7 million (Up by 22.1%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $70.8 million (Up by 79%)
- Fruits, nuts: $57.7 million (Up by 61.4%)
- Wood: $25.1 million (Up by 7.3%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $12.4 million (Up by 288.4%)
Namibia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of diamonds and gold. In turn, these cashflows indicate Namibia’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals category.
Products Causing Namibia’s Worst Trade Deficits
Overall Namibia incurred a -$1.6 billion trade deficit for 2021, up by 36.9% from -$1.2 billion one year earlier.
Below are exports from Namibia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Namibia’s goods trail Namibian importer spending on foreign products.
- Ships, boats: -US$586.4 million (Up by 2,334% since 2020)
- Machinery including computers: -$537.9 million (Up by 55.1%)
- Vehicles: -$509.2 million (Up by 75.3%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$283.8 million (Down by -44.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$279.1 million (Up by 26.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$187.1 million (Up by 48.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$179.8 million (Reversing a $149.2 million surplus)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$169.4 million (Up by 13.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$164.6 million (Up by 38.3%)
- Iron, steel: -$115.0 million (Up by 134.7%)
Namibia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the highly capital-intensive product category titled ships and boats.
Namibian Export Companies
Not one Namibian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists companies from Namibia that participate in international trade transactions. Selected examples are shown below.
- Air Namibia (airliner)
- BidFish (fishery, fish processor)
- FIDES Bank Namibia (commercial bank)
- MTC Namibia (mobile telecommunications)
- Namib Mills (grain processor)
- Ohorongo Cement (cement)
- TN Mobile (mobile telecommunications)
In macroeconomic terms, Namibia’s total exported goods represent an estimated 17.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($24.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 17.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to an estimated 18.9% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Namibia’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Namibia’s capital city is Windhoek, a term that translates to “windy corner” in the Afrikaans language.
See also Botswana’s Top 10 Exports, Uganda’s Top 10 Exports, Somalia’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on September 11, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 11, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 11, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 11, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 11, 2022
Wikipedia, Flag of Namibia. Accessed on September 11, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on September 11, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Namibia. Accessed on September 11, 2022
Wikipedia, Namibia. Accessed on September 11, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on September 11, 2022
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Windhoek, Namibia. Accessed on September 11, 2022