Year over year, the overall value of Somalian exported goods fell by -44% compared to $295.9 million during 2020.
Most Valuable Somalian Trade Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 85.6% worth of products exported from Somalia were bought by importers in: Saudi Arabia (28.1% of the global total), India (10.2%), France (7.6%), Bulgaria (6.7%), mainland China (6.51%), Japan (6.49%), Turkey (4.8%), Pakistan (4.6%), Germany (4.3%), Spain (2.2%), Ukraine (2.1%) and Poland (2%).
From a continental perspective, 64.2% of Somalia’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 29.1% were sold to importers in Europe. Somalia shipped another 4.7% worth of goods to Africa.
Smaller percentages went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.94%), North America (0.93%) then Oceania New Zealand and Australia only (0.1%).
Given Somalia’s population of 15.2 million people, its estimated $165.8 million in 2021 exports translates to roughly $11 for every resident in the Horn of Africa country. That dollar metric is higher than the average $10 per capita one year earlier in 2020.
Somalia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Somali global shipments during 2021 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$42.8 million (25.8% of total exports)
- Oil seeds: $31.1 million (18.8%)
- Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $29.8 million (18%)
- Fish: $11.1 million (6.7%)
- Paper, paper items: $9 million (5.4%)
- Iron, steel: $8.6 million (5.2%)
- Ships, boats: $7 million (4.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $4 million (2.4%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $3.7 million (2.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $3.4 million (2.1%)
Somalia’s top 10 exports accounted for 90.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.
The metals iron and steel represent the fastest growers among the top 10 export categories, up by 2,153% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was paper including items made from paper, via a 132% advance.
Somalia’s shipments of ships and boats posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 112.4%.
The leading decliner among Somalia’s top 10 export categories was fruits and nuts, thanks to its -67.6% year-over-year reduction.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, live sheep and goats represent Somalia’s most valuable exported product at 20.1% of the country’s total. In second place were oil seeds (18.7%), natural gums, resins and balsams (18%), miscellaneous live animals (5.7%), iron or steel scrap (5.2%), paper containers and cellulose wadding (4.8%), breaker vessels (3.9%), moluscs (3.7%), fresh or dried citrus fruit (2.1%), then fats and oils from fish or marine mammals (2%).
Products Creating Somalia’s Best Trade Surpluses
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$39.5 million (Down by -32.5% since 2020)
- Gums, resins, other vegetable saps: $29.6 million (Up by 13.9%)
- Oil seeds: $29.5 million (Up by 44.8%)
- Fish: $9.9 million (Down by -61.3%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $2.9 million (Up by 31.2%)
- Copper: $1.4 million (Reversing an -$88,000 deficit)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $457,000 (Up by 1,728%)
- Lead: $139,000 (Reversing a -$19,000 deficit)
- Gems, precious metals: $94,000 (Down by -99.9%)
- Other base metals: $20,000 (Reversing a -$10,000 deficit)
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.
Products Causing Somalia’s Largest Trade Deficits
Overall Somalia incurred an estimated -$3.15 billion trade deficit for 2021, shrinking by -20.1% from -$3.94 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2020.
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.
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: US-$360.3 million (Up by 29.4% since 2020)
- Vegetables: -$357.2 million (Up by 17.5%)
- Cereals: -$213.7 million (Down by -8.4%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: -$154.9 million (Up by 8.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$147.5 million (Down by -50.6%)
- Manmade staple fibers: -$147.5 million (Up by 14.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$137.6 million (Up by 22.7%)
- Vehicles: -$132.8 million (Down by -16.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$114.9 million (Up by 29.7%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$114.5 million (Down by -21.5%)
Somalia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under food-related categories sugar including sugar confectionery, vegetables, 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 0.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($18.9 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 0.9% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 1% for 2020. 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 unemployment rate averaged 19.86% in 2021, up from an average 19.7% one year earlier in 2020 according to Trading Economics.
Somalia’s capital city is Mogadishu.
See also South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports, Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Imports, Angola’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: Somalia. Accessed on August 11, 2022
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Somalia. Accessed on August 11, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 11, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity)
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 11, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 11, 2022
The World Bank, Unemployment, total (% of total labor force). Accessed on August 11, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on August 11, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Somalia. Accessed on August 11, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on August 11, 2022
Wikipedia, Somalia. Accessed on August 11, 2022
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Mogadishu, Somalia. Accessed on August 11, 2022