That estimated dollar amount reflects an -4% decrease from $14.1 million five years earlier in 2018.
Year over year, the overall value of products exported from Tonga fell by -15% compared to $15.9 million during 2021.
Based on average exchange rates for Tonga’s official currency in 2022, the Pa’anga depreciated by -4.1% against the US dollar since 2018 and diluted by -2.8% from 2021 to 2022. The weaker Pa’anga makes Tonga’s exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive.
Tonga’s 5 biggest exported product groups are: fresh whole fish, Jerusalem artichokes plus manioc roots or tubers including sweet potatoes¸ copper waste or scrap, miscellaneous aquatic invertebrates, then miscellaneous fresh or chilled vegetables. Combined, those 5 product groups represent almost one half (49.2%) of revenues collected for Tonga’s total goods exported in 2022.
Tonga’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 83% of products exported from Tonga were bought by importers in: New Zealand (23.2% of the global total), Hong Kong (17.7%), United States (13.1%), Japan (10.9%), Australia (8.8%), Samoa (2.5%), Philippines (1.7%), South Korea (1.7%), Fiji (1.1%), Vanuatu (0.9%), United States Minor Outlying Islands (0.8%) and Taiwan (0.6%).
Given Tonga’s population of 100,000 people, its total $13.5 million in 2022 exports translates to about $130 for every resident in the South Pacific nation. That dollar metric falls below the average $160 per capita one year earlier during 2021.
Tonga’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Tongan global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Tonga.
- Fish: US$2.8 million (20.7% of total Tongan exports)
- Vegetables: $2.6 million (19.4%)
- Oil seeds: $1.85 million (13.7%)
- Copper: $1.4 million (10.3%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $855,000 (6.3%)
- Machinery including computers: $749,000 (5.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $429,000 (3.2%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $357,000 (2.6%)
- Fruits, nuts: $310,000 (2.3%)
- Paper, paper items: $276,000 (2.0%)
Tonga’s top 10 exports accounted for 86.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefabricated buildings represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 5000.0% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving export sales was paper including items made from paper via a 3,843% advance.
Tonga’s shipments of copper metals posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 673.3%.
The leading decliner among Tonga’s top 10 export categories was fruits, nuts: thanks to a -64.7% year-over-year drop.
At the more granular Harmonized Tariff System code tariff-line, Tonga’s most valuable exported products in 2022 were fresh whole fish (10.4% of Tonga’s global total), Jerusalem artichokes plus manioc roots or tubers including sweet potatoes (also 10.4%), copper waste and scrap (10.3%), miscellaneous aquatic invertebrates (9.3%), miscellaneous fresh or chilled vegetables (8.7%), medicinal plants (7.4%), coral and similar materials, coral, shells and similar materials (6.3%), locust beans (4.2%), diesel engines (4%), then miscellaneous furniture (2.6%).
Products Generating Tonga’s Best Trade Surpluses
The following types of Tongan 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.
- Oil seeds: US$1.7 million (Up by 155% since 2021)
- Vegetables: $1.6 million (Down by -56.6%)
- Copper: $1.4 million (Up by 1118%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $836,000 (Down by -3.5%)
- Fish: $416,000 (Down by -46.3%)
- Cork, articles of cork: $2,000 (2021 data unavailable)
- Lead: $2,000 (Down by -150%)
- Arms, ammunition: $2,000 (2021 data unavailable)
Tonga has highly positive net exports in the international trade of oil seeds and vegetables. In turn, these cashflows indicate Tonga’s strong competitive advantages under the related product categories.
Products Causing Tonga’s Worst Trade Deficits
Overall, Tonga incurred an estimated -US$231.2 million product trade deficit for 2022, expanding by 11.8% from -$206.7 million in red ink in 2021.
Below are exports from Tonga that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Tonga’s goods trail Tongan importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$54.3 million (Up by 92.5% since 2021)
- Meat: -$21 million (Down by -5.6%)
- Vehicles: -$15.6 million (Up by 15.6%)
- Machinery including computers: -$14.6 million (Up by 39.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$11.5 million (Down by -11%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$10.9 million (Up by 8.5%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$8.7 million (Up by 15.4%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: -$8.1 million (Down by -14.5%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$8 million (Down by -1.8%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$7.5 million (Up by 92.5%)
Tonga has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for refined petroleum oils under the product category mineral fuels including oil.
Tongan Export Companies
Not one Tongan corporation ranks on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
Wikipedia lists several trade-related entities in Tonga. A couple of selected examples are shown below.
- Real Tonga (airliner)
- Tonga Ma’a Tonga Kautaha (copra/dried coconut cooperative)
Alibaba is an ecommerce repository where suppliers from Tonga do business. The following are Tongan businesses listed on Alibaba.
- HaiKuuLani Export (fresh kava, frozen taro/tapioca)
- Hingano Import/Export (Kava roots/powder)
- South Pacific MOZUKU (herbs, natural remedies)
- Tannchez (seafood, vegetables, fruits)
In macroeconomic terms, Tonga’s total exported goods represent 2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($668 million valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 2.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 2.4% for 2021. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Tonga’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of economic performance is a country’s unemployment rate. Tonga’s reported unemployment rate averaged 3.011% for 2022, up from 2.6% for 2021 according to metrics from Trading Economics.
Tonga’s capital city is Nukuʻalofa.
See also Top Oceanian Export Countries, Australia’s Top 10 Exports and New Zealand’s Top 10 Exports
Alibaba, Wholesale Suppliers from Tonga. Accessed on October 17, 2023
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Australia-Oceania: Tonga. Accessed on October 17, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 17, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 17, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on October 17, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 17, 2023
Trading Economics, Tonga – Unemployment, total. Accessed on October 17, 2023
Wikimedia, Flag of Tonga. Accessed on October 17, 2023
Wikipedia, Category:Companies of Tonga. Accessed on October 17, 2023
Wikipedia, Tonga. Accessed on October 17, 2023