The latest available country-specific data shows that 85.6% of products exported from Somalia were bought by importers in: Saudi Arabia (29.9% of the global total), Japan (12.8%), Bulgaria (8.9%), China (5.9%), France (5%), Egypt (4.2%), India (3.8%), Turkey (3.7%), Pakistan (3.7%), Qatar (2.9%), South Korea (2.3%) and Senegal (also 2.3%).
From a continental perspective, 69.7% of Somalia’s exports by value were delivered to Asia countries while 20.9% were sold to importers in Europe. Somalia shipped another 8.1% worth of goods to fellow African nations.
Smaller percentages went to North America (0.6%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.5%), and Oceania led by Australia (0.1%).
Given Somalia’s population of 15.046 million people, its total $133.7 million in 2020 exports translates to roughly $10 for every resident in the Horn of Africa country.
Somalia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Somali global shipments during 2020 at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Somalia.
- Live animals: US$43.2 million (32.3% of total exports)
- Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $26.4 million (19.8%)
- Fish: $17.5 million (13.1%)
- Oil seeds: $15.7 million (11.8%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $6.2 million (4.6%)
- Fruits, nuts: $4 million (3%)
- Paper, paper items: $3.9 million (2.9%)
- Ships, boats: $3.3 million (2.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $3 million (2.2%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $2.3 million (1.7%)
Somalia’s top 10 exports accounted for 93.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ships and boats was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 165,600% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales was paper, paper items: via a 108% gain.
Somalia’s shipments of animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 91.5%.
The leading decliner among Somalia’s top 10 export categories was oil seeds, thanks to a -63.8% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, natural gums, resins and balsams represent Somalia’s most valuable exported product at 19.7% of the country’s total. In second place were live sheep and goats (16.3%), miscellaneous live animals (15.6%), oil seeds (11.6%), moluscs (6.3%), fish or marine mammal fats and oils (4.5%), frozen whole fish (4.1%), fresh or dried citrus fruit (3%), embossed or perforated paper (2.9%) and breaker vessels (2.5%).
The following types of Somali 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.
- Live animals: US$32.6 million (Down by -60.2% since 2019)
- Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $25.7 million (Down by -28.7%)
- Fish: $16.3 million (Down by -52.7%)
- Oil seeds: $13.9 million (Down by -66.4%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $2.2 million (Down by -36.7%)
- Ships, boats: $1.9 million (Reversing a -$1.2 million deficit)
- Ores, slag, ash: $499,000 (Down by -23.1%)
- Copper: $174,000 (Down by -61%)
- Gems, precious metals: $56,000 (Down by -100%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $25,000 (Up by 177.8%)
Somalia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of sheep and goats. In turn, these cashflows indicate Somalia’s strong competitive advantages under the live animals category.
Overall Somalia incurred an estimated -$2.8 billion trade deficit for 2020, down by -19.6% from -$3.5 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Somalia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Somalia’s goods trail Somali importer spending on foreign products.
- Vegetables: -US$281.7 million (Down by -4.3% since 2019)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$274.9 million (Down by -1.2%)
- Cereals: -$229 million (Up by 5.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$145.3 million (Down by -38%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: -$132.2 million (Up by 23%)
- Manmade staple fibers: -$127 million (Up by 20.6%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$108.6 million (Down by -25.7%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$99.7 million (Up by 20.1%)
- Vehicles: -$94.7 million (Down by -47.2%)
- Machinery including computers: -$93.2 million (Down by -25.5%)
Somalia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under food-related categories vegetables, sugar including sugar confectionery, and cereals categories.
Somali Export Companies
Not one Somali corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia also lists exports-related companies from Somalia. Selected examples are shown below.
- Bosaso Tannery (product tanning)
- Hafun Fishing Company (fish)
- International Bank of Somalia (commercial bank)
- KAAH Electric (electricity)
- Somafone (telecommunications)
- Somalia Petroleum Corporation (oil, gas)
In macroeconomic terms, Somalia’s total exported goods represent an estimated 1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($13.9 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 1.6% for 2019. Those metrics suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Somalia’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Somalia’s average unemployment rate was 13.1% in 2020, up from an average 12.8% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Somalia’s capital city is Mogadishu.
See also South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports, Angola’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: Somalia. Accessed on July 24, 2021
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Somalia. Accessed on July 24, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 24, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 24, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 24, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 24, 2021
The World Bank, Unemployment, total (% of total labor force). Accessed on July 24, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 24, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Somalia. Accessed on July 24, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 24, 2021
Wikipedia, Somalia. Accessed on July 24, 2021
WorldOMeter, Somalia Population. Accessed on July 24, 2021
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Mogadishu, Somalia. Accessed on July 24, 2021