That dollar amount reflects a -19.5% drop since 2016 but a 14.7% increase from 2019 to 2020.
The latest data shows that 98.5% of products exported from the Cayman Islands were bought by importers in: the Netherlands (45.6% of the global total), Cyprus (34.7%), Malta (9.9%), United States (3.2%), Greece (1.2%), Brazil (1.1%), Italy (1.1%), Nigeria (0.8%), France (0.6%) and Canada (0.5%).
From a continental perspective, 94.5% of Cayman Islands’ exports by value were delivered to European countries.
Smaller percentages went to importers in Latin America (2.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Asia (1.7%), North America (1.4%) and Africa (0.1%).
Given Cayman Islands’ population of 65,720 people, its total $1.761 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $26,800 for every resident in the independent territory.
Cayman Islands’ Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Caymanian 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 Cayman Islands.
- Ships, boats: US$1.6 billion (92.4% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $49.1 million (2.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $32.2 million (1.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $12.7 million (0.7%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $6.4 million (0.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $4.4 million (0.2%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $4.1 million (0.2%)
- Other chemical goods: $3.9 million (0.2%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $1.1 million (0.1%)
- Wood: $1.1 million (0.1%)
By value, Cayman Islands’ top 10 exports accounted for 98.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Aircraft and spacecraft was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 3,277% since 2019.
In second place for improving export sales was miscellaneous textiles including worn clothing which rose 1,863%.
Cayman Islands’ shipments of gems and precious metals posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 214.7% year over year.
The leading decliner among Cayman Islands’ top 10 export categories was the collector items, art and antiques subgrouping which fell in value by -44.5% year over year.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, yachts and similar vessels represent Cayman Islands’ most valuable exported product generating 91% of the country’s total by value. In second place was gold (2.8%) trailed by refined petroleum oils (1.6%), cruise ships (1.4%) and phone system devices including smartphones (0.5%).
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.
In turn, these cashflows indicate Cayman Islands’ competitive advantages for the product categories below.
- Collector items, art, antiques: US$2.4 million (Up by -133.4% since 2019)
- Other base metals: $31,000 (Down by -113.7%)
- Woodpulp: $11,000 (Down by -100%)
- Live animals: $4,000 (Down by -101.4%)
Overall Cayman Islands racked up an estimated -$2.1 billion product trade deficit for 2020, down by -29.2% from -$2.9 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Cayman Islands that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Cayman Islands’ goods trail Caymanian importer spending on foreign products.
- Ships, boats: -US$1.1 billion (Down by -28.8% since 2019)
- Machinery including computers: -$76 million (Down by 32%)
- Vehicles: -$65 million (Down by 16.3%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$56.2 million (Down by -47.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$51.4 million (Down by 5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$40.6 million (Down by -5.2%)
- Paper, paper items: -$32.6 million (Up by -53.9%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$30.4 million (Down by -1.1%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$26.6 million (Down by -6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$24.3 million (Up by 86.6%)
Cayman Islands has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the highly capital-intensive ships and boats category.
Caymanian Export Companies
One Caymanian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000, specifically pharmaceuticals supplier Herbalife Ltd.
Wikipedia also lists exports-related companies from the Cayman Islands. Selected examples are shown below.
- Fabrinet (telecommunications equipment)
- O2Micro International Limited (semiconductors)
- Ocean Rig (oil, gas)
- Theravance Biopharma, Inc (pharmaceuticals)
In macroeconomic terms, the Cayman Islands’ total exported goods represent an estimated 85.6% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($2.057 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 85.6% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2020 reflects a high degree of re-exporting activity.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. The Cayman Islands’ unemployment rate averaged 5.2% for 2020, up from an average 3.5% in 2019 according to data from Trading Economics.
Cayman Islands’ capital city is George Town.
See also Haiti’s Top 10 Exports, Mexico’s Top 10 Exports and Netherlands Top 10 Exports
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Cayman Islands. Accessed on October 25, 2021
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 25, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 25, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on October 25, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 25, 2021
NASDAQ, Companies in Cayman Islands. Accessed on October 25, 2021
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Central America and Caribbean: Cayman Islands. Accessed on October 25, 2021
Wikipedia, Cayman Islands. Accessed on October 25, 2021