Yemen's foreign trade, which once represented more than 80% of GDP, died out with the civil war reaching a mere 49% of GDP in 2018, according to World Bank, which has stopped releasing data on Yemen's trade since that date. Before the conflict, Yemen's economy heavily relied on exports of crude oil, which accounted for the majority of the country's foreign exchange earnings. However, the conflict has severely impacted Yemen's oil production and exports, leading to a decline in revenue and an increased reliance on imports. According to data by ICT, in 2021 the country's imports were led by cereals (11.4%); vehicles and parts and accessories thereof (7%); plastics (6%); iron and steel (5.8%); and machinery, mechanical appliances, nuclear reactors, boilers; parts thereof (4.5%). Yemen's exports are concentrated in the hydrocarbon sector (55.2%), followed by fisheries (10.2%) and edible fruit and nuts (5.9%).
Saudi Arabia was Yemen's top trading partner prior to the civil war, as it received more than 30% of its exports. According to the latest figures available from ITC, in 2021 Yemen’s main customers were Thailand (25.3%), China (21.4%), Saudi Arabia (10.3%), Oman (7.9%), and Austria (6.6%); whereas imports came chiefly from China (21.4%), the UAE (11.6%), Saudi Arabia (10.7%), Turkey (9.1%), and Oman (6.5%). Yemen is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), and it also signed bilateral trade agreements with several countries, including China, India, and Turkey. However, the conflict has limited Yemen's ability to fully benefit from these agreements, as many ports and trade routes have been disrupted.
Yemen has a structurally negative trade balance as it needs to import most of its energy consumption, unlike most other countries in the region. According to data from the WTO, in 2021 Yemen exported USD 662 million worth of goods (-45% year-on-year), while imports stood at USD 5.2 billion (-29.7% year-on-year). No data was released concerning trade in commercial services. Data by the Central Bank of Yemen (Aden) show that in 2022 exports, remittances, and donor assistance were significantly less than imports, resulting in a markedly wider current account deficit (14% of GDP).
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||7,465||8,213||10,407||7,399||5,204|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||1,601||1,358||1,435||1,204||662|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||0||1,351||1,848||0||0|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||0||179||241||0||0|
|Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||-36||30||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||-45||49||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||71||49||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||63||43||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||9||6||n/a||n/a||n/a|
Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.
(% of Exports)
|See More Countries||10.3%|
(% of Imports)
|United Arab Emirates||24.0%|
|See More Countries||48.2%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
|0.0 bn USD of products exported in 2019|
|Wheat or meslin flourWheat or meslin flour||62.7%|
|Cereal groats, meal and pelletsCereal groats, meal and pellets||33.5%|
|Residues of starch manufacture and similar...Residues of starch manufacture and similar residues, beet-pulp, bagasse and other waste of sugar manufacture, brewing or distilling dregs and waste, whether or not in the form of pellets||1.3%|
|Made-up clothing accessories, knitted or...Made-up clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted; knitted or crocheted parts of garments or of clothing accessories, n.e.s.||0.2%|
|Fibreboard of wood or other ligneous materials,...Fibreboard of wood or other ligneous materials, whether or not agglomerated with resins or other organic bonding agents (excl. particle board, whether or not bonded with one or more sheets of fibreboard; laminated wood with a layer of plywood; composite panels with outer layers of fibreboard; paperboard; furniture components identifiable as such)||0.2%|
|See More Products||2.1%|
|4.7 bn USD of products imported in 2019|
|Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals||28.3%|
|Wheat and meslinWheat and meslin||11.6%|
|Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in...Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in solid form||5.0%|
|Maize or cornMaize or corn||3.5%|
|See More Products||48.6%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
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Latest Update: September 2023