That estimated dollar amount results from a 12.3% increase over the 5-year period starting from $2.34 billion in 2017.
Year over year, Yemen’s total revenues from exports accelerated by 36.1% from $1.38 billion during 2020.
The top 5 most valuable products exported from Yemen are crude oil, iron or steel scrap, fresh whole fish, frozen whole fish, then miscellaneous machine electrical parts. Collectively, those 5 leading exports accounted for almost four-fifths (79.4%) of the total value of Yemen’s exported goods for 2021.
Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. Geographically, the Arab nation shares borders with Saudi Arabia to its north, Oman to its east and northeast, the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden to its south and the Red Sea to its west.
Yemen’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 88.6% of products exported from Yemen were bought by importers in: Saudi Arabia (35.6% of Yemen’s global total), Oman (18.8%), Somalia (7.3%), Japan (6%), United Arab Emirates (5.1%), Egypt (3.4%), United States of America (2.6%), Germany (2.4%), Djibouti (2.3%), United Kingdom (1.9%), Thailand (1.6%), then mainland China (1.5%).
Given its population of 30.9 million people, Yemen’s total $1.874 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $60 for every resident in the Middle Eastern country.
Yemen’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Yemeni global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Yemen.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.6 billion (82.8% of total exports)
- Fish: $102.3 million (5.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $53.6 million (2.7%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $21.5 million (1.1%)
- Vegetables: $20.3 million (1%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $15.4 million (0.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $13.1 million (0.7%)
- Copper: $12.6 million (0.64%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $12.4 million (0.62%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $11.8 million (0.59%)
By value, Yemen’s top 10 export categories accounted for 96.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
The metals iron and steel represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 454% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment via a 239.1% advance.
Yemen’s shipments of copper posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 75.8%.
The lone decliner among Yemen’s top 10 export categories was fruits and nuts, thanks to a -47.6% year-over-year drop.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.
At the more detailed 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, crude oil represents Yemen’s most valuable exported product at 64.7% of the Middle Eastern country’s total. In second place was iron or steel scrap (5%) trailed by fresh whole fish (3.7%), frozen whole fish (3.5%), miscellaneous machine electrical parts (2.6%), copper scrap (2.4%), moluscs (2.2%), onions or shallots and garlic (1.7%), coffee (1.4%), then guavas, mangoes, and dates (also 1.4%).
Products Generating Yemen’s Top Trade Surpluses
The following types of Yemeni 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 is 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$1.1 billion (Up by 209.9% since 2020)
- Fish: $200.4 million (Up by 69.8%)
- Fruits, nuts: $11.1 million (Reversing a -$92 million deficit)
- Ships, boats: $8.8 million (Up by -29.3%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $7.1 million (Up by -30.9%)
- Lead: $6.4 million (Up by -54.1%)
- Railways, streetcars: $6.1 million (Up by -640.6%)
- Vegetable plaiting materials: $1.5 million (Up by 228.3%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $126,000 (Up by -76%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $16,000 (Reversing a -$42,000 deficit)
Yemen has highly positive net exports in the international trade of fossil fuels, notably crude oil and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Yemen’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels product category which represents over four-fifths of Yemeni exports.
Products Causing Yemen’s Top Trade Deficits
Yemen incurred an overall -$7.6 billion trade deficit for 2021, shrinking by -15.3% from -$9 billion during 2020.
Below are exports from Yemen that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Yemen’s goods trail Yemeni importer spending on foreign products.
- Cereals: -US$1.4 billion (Up by 38.2% since 2020)
- Iron, steel: -$587.7 million (Up by 45.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$571.3 million (Up by 123.2%)
- Vehicles: -$484.4 million (Up by 42.5%)
- Machinery including computers: -$425.1 million (Up by 69.1%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$324 million (Up by 61.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$308.1 million (Up by 1.6%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: -$305.8 million (Up by 102.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$273.9 million (Up by -12.1%)
- Manmade filaments: -$244.9 million (Up by 109.3%)
Yemen has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for cereals particularly wheat, rice and corn (in that order).
Yemeni Export Companies
The following companies are selected examples of leading companies headquartered in Yemen:
No Yemeni company appears on the Forbes 2021 Global 2000 rankings.
Wikipedia does list some exporters from Yemen. Selected examples are shown below:
- Hayel Saeed Anam Group (multi-product conglomerate)
- TeleYemen (telecommunications)
- Yemen LNG (petroleum)
- Yemen Oil and Gas Corporation (petroleum)
- YemenSoft Inc (enterprise/accounting software)
In macroeconomic terms, Yemen’s total exported goods represent 3.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($61.1 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 3.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 2.3% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Yemen’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Yemen’s unemployment rate averaged 13.6% for 2021, up from an average 13.42% one year earlier in 2020 per Trading Economics.
Yemen’s capital city is Sana’a.
See also Yemen’s Top 10 Imports, Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Exports, Oman’s Top 10 Exports and Crude Oil Exports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: Kenya. Accessed on September 16, 2022
Forbes 2021 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 16, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 16, 2022
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on September 16, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 16, 2022
Wikipedia, Category: Companies of Yemen by industry. Accessed on September 16, 2022
Wikipedia, Yemen. Accessed on September 16, 2022