Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the South Sudanese pound has depreciated by -255% against the US dollar since 2016 and diluted by -5% from 2019 to 2020. South Sudan’s weaker local currency made the African nation’s exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The 2 biggest exported goods from South Sudan by value are crude oil and gold. Combined, South Sudan’s duo of most valuable exports accounted for 98.8% of the country’s overall exports.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 99.97% of products exported from South Sudan were bought by importers in: China (85.4% of the global total), Uganda (10.9%), Italy (3.1%), India (0.3%), Singapore (0.14%), Russia (0.09%), Egypt (0.05%), Slovakia (0.023%), Georgia (0.017%), Mozambique (0.006%), Saudi Arabia (also 0.006%) and Czech Republic (0.005%).
From a continental perspective, 85.8% of South Sudan’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries. Another 11% worth was bought by fellow African countries. Tinier percentages were sold to importers in Europe (3.2%) and Oceania’s Australia (0.004%).
Given South Sudan’s population of 13.8 million people, its total $792.9 million in 2020 exported goods translates to roughly $60 for every resident in the northeast African nation.
South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in South Sudanese global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from South Sudan.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$702.4 million (88.6% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $82.2 million (10.4%)
- Iron, steel: $3.7 million (0.5%)
- Wood: $2.2 million (0.3%)
- Machinery including computers: $719,000 (0.1%)
- Cotton: $423,000 (0.05%)
- Other chemical goods: $188,000 (0.024%)
- Vehicles: $147,000 (0.019%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $137,000 (0.017%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $120,000 (0.015%)
South Sudan’s top 10 exported product categories accounted for 99.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Iron and steel was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 122,400% from 2019 to 2020. In second place for improving export sales were miscellaneous chemical goods via a 1,006% gain.
South Sudan’s shipments under the furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefabricated buildings category posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 263.2%.
The leading decliner among South Sudan’s top 10 export categories was wood, thanks to its -77.6% drop year over year.
Overall South Sudan achieved an estimated $185.8 million trade surplus for 2020, down by -82% from $1 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of South Sudanese 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$701 million (Down by -54.7% since 2019)
- Gems, precious metals: $82.2 million (Up by 73.8%)
- Cotton: $65,000 (Down by -177.4%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $5,000 (Reversing a -$328,000 deficit)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $5,000 (No 2019 data)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1,000 (No change)
- Zinc: $1,000 (Reversing a -$77,000 deficit)
South Sudan has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil. In turn, these cashflows support South Sudan’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels-related product category.
Below are exports from South Sudan that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country South Sudan’s goods trail South Sudanese importer spending on foreign products.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$68.4 million (Up by 35.8% since 2019)
- Vehicles: -$56 million (Down by -66.8%)
- Machinery including computers: -$54.3 million (Down by -17.7%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: -$49.9 million (Up by 2,628%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$39.6 million (Up by 173.3%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$36.5 million (Up by 672.3%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$29.3 million (Up by 960.5%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: -$29.1 million (Up by 784.9%)
- Cereals: -$21.8 million (Up by 49.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$21.2 million (Up by 9%)
South Sudan has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category.
South Sudanese Export Companies
Not one South Sudanese corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 listing for the world’s largest companies.
Wikipedia does list some international trade-related companies from South Sudan. Selected examples are shown below.
- Buffalo Commercial Bank (commerical banking)
- Ivory Bank (commerical banking)
- Mountain Trade and Development Bank (commerical banking)
- Southern Sudan Beverages Limited (brewery)
- South Supreme Airlines (airliner)
In macroeconomic terms, South Sudan’s total exported goods represent an estimated 7.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($10.9 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 7.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to roughly 8.5% one year earlier. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for South Sudan’s total economic performance, albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic health is its unemployment rate. Trading Economics estimates South Sudan’s average unemployment rate to be 12.7% for 2020, up from 12% in 2019.
South Sudan’s capital city is Juba.
See also Top South African Trading Partners, Kenya’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: South Sudan. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 25, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 25, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 25, 2021
The World Bank, Official Exchange Rate (LCU per US$, period average) – South Sudan. Accessed on June 24, 2021
Wikipedia, Flag of South Sudan. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of South Sudan. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Wikipedia, South Sudan. Accessed on June 25, 2021
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Juba, South Sudan. Accessed on June 25, 2021