That dollar amount reflects a 13.7% gain since 2016 but a -15.8% decrease from 2019 to 2020.
The 5 biggest exported goods from Papua New Guinea are petroleum gases, gold, copper ores and concentrates, rough wood, crude oil and palm oil. Combined, those 5 leading products represent almost three-quarters (74.2%) of value of Papua New Guinea’s exports during 2020.
The latest available data back in 2012 shows that 89.7% of products exported from Papua New Guinea were bought by importers in: Australia (35.9% of the global total), Japan (11.7%), Germany (7%), China (6.7%), Singapore (5.6%), Netherlands (4.6%), India (4.5%), Philippines (3.4%), United Kingdom (3.3%), South Korea (2.7%), Spain (2.5%) then the United States of America (1.8%).
Given Papua New Guinea’s population of 8.78 million people, its total $9.93 billion in exports translates to roughly $1,100 for every resident in the island country.
Papua New Guinea’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Papua New Guinean global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Papua New Guinea.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$4.2 billion (42% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $2.4 billion (24%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $916.8 million (9.2%)
- Wood: $653.6 million (6.6%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $566.9 million (5.7%)
- Nickel: $458.7 million (4.6%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $244.7 million (2.5%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $166.3 million (1.7%)
- Fish: $144.8 million (1.5%)
- Cocoa: $92.6 million (0.9%)
Papua New Guinea’s top 10 exports accounted for 98.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Cocoa was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 47.5% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales were animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes via a 14.2%.
Papua New Guinea’s shipments of meat or seafood preparations posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 10.4%.
The leading decliner among Papua New Guinea’s top 10 export categories was fish thanks to its -41.5% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, petroleum gases represent Papua New Guinea’s most valuable exported product at 33.4% of the country’s total. In second place was unwrought gold (22.9%) trailed by rough wood (5.7%), crude oil (5.2%), palm oil (4.8%), nickel matter and oxide sinters (4.6%), processed petroleum oils (3.5%) then prepared or preserved fish and caviar (2.5%).
Overall Papua New Guinea achieved a $6.1 billion trade surplus for 2020, a -18.9% reduction from the $7.5 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Papua New Guinean 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$3.8 billion (Down by -23.7% since 2019)
- Gems, precious metals: $2.4 billion (Down by -9.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $915.9 million (Down by -9.9%)
- Wood: $648.1 million (Down by -13.4%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $536.6 million (Up by 16.1%)
- Nickel: $457.8 million (Down by -14.5%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $204 million (Up by 18.8%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $164.9 million (Down by -10.1%)
- Fish: $120.7 million (Down by -48.3%)
- Cocoa: $90 million (Up by 50.2%)
Papua New Guinea has positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum gases and, to a lesser extent, crude oil. In turn, these cashflows indicate Papua New Guinea’s strong competitive advantages under the category named mineral fuels including oil.
Below are exports from Papua New Guinea that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Papua New Guinea’s goods trail Papua New Guinean importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US-$662 million (Down by -20.3% since 2019)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$307.3 million (Up by 23.3%)
- Vehicles: -$269 million (Down by -9.1%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$194.7 million (Down by -10.1%)
- Cereals: -$162.3 million (Up by 12.3%)
- Meat: -$122.6 million (Up by 0.6%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: -$120.3 million (Down by -7.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$114.5 million (Down by -5.7%)
- Iron, steel: -$79.3 million (Down by -3.3%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$74.4 million (Down by -13.9%)
Papua New Guinea has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category.
Papua New Guinean Export Companies
Not one Papua New Guinean corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Papua New Guinea. Selected examples are shown below.
- Bank South Pacific (international bank)
- InterOil (oil, gas)
- Liquid Niugini LNG (natural gas)
- Oil Search Limited (oil, gas)
- Ok Tedi Mining Limited (copper, gold mining)
- PNG Air (airliner)
In macroeconomic terms, Papua New Guinea’s total exported goods represent 29.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($33.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 29.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 34% for 2019. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Papua New Guinea’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Papua New Guinea’s average unemployment rate was 2.9% in 2020, down from 2.4% for 2019 according to Trading Economics.
Papua New Guinea’s capital city is Port Moresby, nicknamed “Pom City”.
See also Gold Exports by Country, Silver Exports by Country, Platinum Exports by Country and Capital Facts for Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on September 14, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 14, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 14, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 14, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 14, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on September 14, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Papua New Guinea. Accessed on September 14, 2021
Wikipedia, Papua New Guinea. Accessed on September 14, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on September 14, 2021