From 2019 to 2020, the value of Ukraine’s exports flatlined via a -0.9% slowdown.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Ukrainian hryvnia depreciated by -5.5% against the US dollar since 2016 and depreciated by -4.3% from 2019 to 2020. Ukraine’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The 5 most valuable exported products from Ukraine generated 42.1% of the Eastern European country’s total international sales in 2020. At the more detailed 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Ukraine’s top money-making shipments were for: sunflower-seed or safflower oil; corn; iron ores or concentrates; wheat; and semi-finished products made from iron or non-alloy steel.
Key Trading Partners Buying Ukraine’s Exports
The latest available country-specific data shows that 58.6% of products exported from Ukraine were bought by importers in: China (14.4% of the global total), Poland (7%), Russia (5.5%), Turkey (4.9%), Germany (4.2%), India (4%), Italy (3.9%), Netherlands (3.7%), Egypt (3.3%), Belarus (2.7%), Hungary (2.5%) and Spain (also 2.5%).
From a continental perspective, 48.8% of Ukraine’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 39.8% were sold to importers in Asia. Ukraine shipped another 8.2% worth of goods to Africa.
Smaller percentages went to North America (2.3%), Latin America (0.8%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania led by Australia and Marshall Islands (0.1%).
Given Ukraine’s population of 41.5 million people, its total $49.4 billion worth of exports in 2020 translates to roughly $1,200 for every resident in the Eastern European nation.
Ukraine’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Ukrainian global shipments during 2020, at the 2-digit HTS code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Ukraine.
- Cereals: US$9.4 billion (19.1% of total exports)
- Iron, steel: $7.7 billion (15.6%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $5.8 billion (11.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $4.4 billion (9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $2.5 billion (5.2%)
- Machinery including computers: $1.9 billion (3.9%)
- Oil seeds: $1.8 billion (3.7%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $1.6 billion (3.2%)
- Wood: $1.4 billion (2.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $877.8 million (1.8%)
Ukraine’s top 10 exports accounted for 75.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag and ash was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 23.1% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales was animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes via a 21.7% gain.
Ukraine’s shipments of machinery including computers posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 13.1%.
The leading decliner among Ukraine’s top 10 export categories was oil seeds, thanks to a -28.1% drop year over year.
The following types of Ukrainian 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.
- Cereals: US$9.2 billion (Down by -2.3% since 2020)
- Iron, steel: $6.7 billion (Down by -11.1%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $5.5 billion (Up by 22.3%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $4 billion (Up by 31.4%)
- Oil seeds: $1.5 billion (Down by -32.7%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $1.3 billion (Up by 3.5%)
- Wood: $1.1 billion (Up by 0.3%)
- Meat: $486.7 million (Down by -12%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $445.3 million (Up by 16.1%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $322 million (Up by 6.9%)
Ukraine has highly positive net exports particularly in the international trade of corn, wheat and barley. In turn, these cashflows indicate Ukraine’s strong competitive advantages under the cereals category.
Overall Ukraine incurred a -$4.8 billion trade deficit in 2020, down -50.9% from -$9.9 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Ukraine that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Ukraine’s goods trail Ukrainian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$7.2 billion (Down by -36.1% since 2019)
- Vehicles: -$5.4 billion (Down by -4.8%)
- Machinery including computers: -$4.2 billion (Down by -16.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.8 billion (Down by -27.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$2.3 billion (Up by 19.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.9 billion (Down by -6.1%)
- Other chemical goods: -$1.2 billion (Down by -0.5%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$1.1 billion (Up by 24.2%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$844.7 million (Up by 0.6%)
- Fish: -$638.1 million (Up by 4.4%)
Ukraine has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for refined petroleum oils, petroleum gases, coal and, to a lesser degree, crude oil under the mineral fuels-related category.
Ukrainian Export Companies
The following companies are selected examples of leading companies headquartered in Ukraine. Wikipedia lists the biggest exporters from Ukraine. Selected examples are shown below.
- Metinvest (mining, metals)
- Naftohaz of Ukraine (oil, gas)
- Aeromeh (aircraft)
- Azovstal iron and steel works (iron, steel)
- Bogdan group (automobile maker)
- Chumak (food processing)
- EKTA (LED displays, imaging equipment/software)
- Motor Sich (engines)
- Ukrainian Automobile Corporation (automobile maker)
- Ukrtatnafta (refined oil)
- Zaporizhstal (steel)
In macroeconomic terms, Ukraine’s total exported goods represent 8.6% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($576.1 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 8.6% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 11.3% for 2019. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Ukraine’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Ukraine’s unemployment rate was 10.5% at January 2021, up from 8.6% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Ukraine’s capital city is Kiev.
See also Russia’s Top 10 Exports, Ukraine’s Top 10 Imports, Wheat Exports by Country and Top Importers of Laptop Computers Ranked by Dollar Value
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on Europe: Ukraine. Accessed on July 15, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 15, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on July 15, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 15, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 15, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 15, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 15, 2021
Wikipedia, List of the biggest companies of Ukraine. Accessed on July 15, 2021
Wikipedia, List of companies of Ukraine. Accessed on July 15, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 15, 2021
Wikipedia, Ukraine. Accessed on July 15, 2021