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Saudi Arabia’s Commodity Imports & Exports: Securing Economic Survival In A Post-Oil Era

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In this Saudi Arabia economic guide we’ll give you an overview of the Saudi Arabian economy, including the country’s primary imports and exports of goods and services, as well as their primary destinations.

Economy of Saudi Arabia – Overview

Saudi Arabia is ranked the 21st largest export economy in the world with annual exports totaling $263 billion and a positive trade balance of $127 billion (after deducting annual imports of $136 billion).

map of Saudi Arabia
Map of Saudi Arabia via Wikimedia (public domain)

The value of the country’s exports has fallen $290 billion in the last five years, with the price of crude petroleum being a major factor.

Saudi Arabia is the 32nd largest importer in the world and the annual value of its imports has fallen $32.4 billion in the last five years from $168 billion to $136 billion.

Saudi Arabia’s GDP

GDP is $787 billion which equates to a GDP per capita of $23,339. It’s ranked 18th in the world for GDP.

The Arab nation’s GDP has seen 51.3% growth over the last 10 years but only 16.2% in per-capita GDP growth.

Saudi Arabia’s Top 5 Commodity Exports

  1. Crude Petroleum – $165 billion
  2. Refined Petroleum – $24 billion
  3. Petroleum Gas – $4.8 billion
  4. Raw Aluminum – $1.3 billion
  5. Gold – $825 million

Saudi Arabia’s Other Notable Exports

  • Ethylene Polymers – $12.5 billion
  • Propylene Polymers – $6.3 billion
  • Acyclic Alcohols – $5.1 billion
  • Cyclic Hydrocarbons – $3 billion
  • Ethers – $2.7 billion

Top exports destinations for Saudi Arabia are China ($37.5 billion), Japan ($29.4 billion), India ($26.3 billion), South Korea ($23.5 billion), the United States ($22 billion).

Saudi Arabia’s Top 5 Commodity Imports

  1. Refined Petroleum – $3.7 billion
  2. Gold – $3.3 billion
  3. Barley – $1.7 billion
  4. Rice – $1.2 billion
  5. Poultry Meat – $1 billion

Saudi Arabia’s Other Notable Imports

  • Cars – $8.9 billion
  • Broadcasting Equipment – $4.8 billion
  • Packaged Medicaments – $3.1 billion
  • Planes, Helicopters, and/or Spacecraft – $1.9 billion
  • Blood, antisera, vaccines, toxins and cultures – $1.9 billion

The majority of Saudi imports come from China ($19.1 billion), the United Arab Emirates ($17.2 billion), the United States ($13.1 billion), Germany ($7.58 billion), and India ($5.84 billion).

Did you know? Saudi Arabia imports camels from Australia. This is because their own camels are bred for domestic purposes and racing, with the camels from Australia being used for the meat, which is considered a delicacy.

Details About Saudi Arabia’s Commodities

Here we provide more analysis of Saudi Arabia’s trading products.

Crude Petroleum

Crude petroleum accounts for 62.7% of the country’s total annual exports and is a significant source of revenue, despite plans in place to reduce its dependency on oil outlined in its Saudi Vision 2030 that sets out how they intend to achieve economic survival when the oil runs out.

Currently, Saudi Arabia leads the way in the largest export market in the world ($1.08 trillion) with annual exports of $165 billion, giving them a 15.3% global market share.

Their closest competitor is Russia, which has 12.4% market share of crude petroleum.

Refined Petroleum

Refined petroleum accounts for 9.11% of Saudi Arabia’s total annual exports and they are the 10th largest exporter in the world.

The Saudi Arabian Oil Company, commonly known as Aramco, is the national petroleum and natural gas company. It manages over 100 oil and gas fields and is considered to be one of the most valuable companies in the world in terms of revenue generated.


Saudi Arabia is the 9th largest exporter of raw aluminum and has a 2.2% share of an annual market that is worth $61.1 billion.

Saudi Arabia also exports other forms of aluminum (like aluminum plating and scrap aluminum), bringing its exports of all aluminum to a total of $69 billion.

Interesting Facts About Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia is the biggest country in the Middle East and is the 13th largest country in the world. It is also the largest country in the world that doesn’t have a river.
  • Wedding ceremonies are held separately for men and women in Saudi Arabia, with the bride and groom getting together afterward.
  • Saudi Arabia is the last significant monarchy in the world and has been ruled by the Al Saud family since its inception as a nation in 1932.
  • Around 80% of the Saudi Arabian labour force is non-national.

All figures based on OEC/IMF 2018 calculations and projections unless otherwise stated.

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