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flag Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia: Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

Saudi Arabia was the 21st-largest exporter of goods and the 32nd-largest import market in the world in 2022, with foreign trade representing 64% of its GDP (World Bank, latest data available). Petroleum products represent a large majority of exports, covering around 79.5% of all exports in 2022. The main non-oil export items included "chemical and allied industry products", comprising 35.8% of non-oil merchandise exports, and "plastics and associated articles; rubber and related articles" which constituted 28.3% of non-oil merchandise exports. The most important imported merchandise goods were "machinery and mechanical appliances; electrical equipment; parts thereof" (19.4% of total merchandise imports), and "transport equipment and parts thereof" (14.5% - data General Authority for Statistics).

During 2022, exports to China totaled SAR 249.9 billion, constituting 16.2% of the total exports, thereby establishing China as the primary destination for Saudi Arabia's exports. Following closely were India and Japan, with SAR 157.2 billion (10.2% of total exports) and SAR 152.9 billion (9.9%), respectively. South Korea, the USA, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Taiwan, Singapore, and Bahrain rounded out the top 10 destinations for Saudi exports. China was also the main import partner (21%), followed by the
 U.S. (9.1%) and United Arab Emirates (6.3%). India, Germany, Japan, Egypt, South Korea, Italy and Switzerland were the other countries that ranked in the top 10 countries for imports (data General Authority for Statistics). In order to promote international trade, attract foreign investment and diversify the non-oil sectors, the government announced plans to establish four “economic cities” in different regions of the country, providing a variety of advantages to companies that choose to locate their operations within their limits.

The country's trade balance, although structurally in surplus, fluctuates depending on the price of oil and global demand. In 2022, exports totalled USD 411.1 billion (with oil exports increasing by 61.8% y-o-y) against USD 189.8 billion in imports. In the same year, the Kingdom exported USD 31.8 billion worth of services, importing USD 82.8 billion (WTO). The overall trade balance was estimated to be positive by 16.9% of GDP by the World Bank.  According to data from the General Authority for Statistics, overall merchandise exports stood at SAR 904.9 billion, whereas imports reached SAR 565.3 billion (-24.2% and +9.5% year-on-year, respectively).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 137,065153,163137,998152,849189,877
Exports of Goods (million USD) 294,373261,603173,854276,179411,184
Imports of Services (million USD) 83,95278,66056,26473,28182,801
Exports of Services (million USD) 20,52924,2438,98410,30331,893

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO), Latest data available.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 62.060.249.757.563.1
Trade Balance (million USD) 168,749121,33647,944136,464234,688
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 105,32766,91966473,486183,780
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.69.6-19.78.312.0
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 7.2-5.0-10.61.018.7
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 24.826.124.824.523.2
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 37.234.124.933.039.9

Source: World Bank, Latest data available.

 
Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 1.36.57.76.06.5
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 8.74.66.96.25.9

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook, Latest data available.

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2021
United Arab Emirates 5.1%
China 3.8%
India 3.2%
Egypt 2.7%
United States 1.7%
See More Countries 83.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2021
China 19.8%
United States 10.6%
United Arab Emirates 8.2%
India 5.3%
Germany 4.9%
See More Countries 51.2%

Source: UN Comtrade Database, Latest data available.

 

Main Products

286.5 bn USD of products exported in 2021
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 52.7%
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 18.2%
Polymers of ethylene, in primary formsPolymers of ethylene, in primary forms 4.1%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 2.8%
Polymers of propylene or of other olefins, in...Polymers of propylene or of other olefins, in primary forms 2.5%
See More Products 19.6%
152.7 bn USD of products imported in 2021
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 7.8%
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 4.6%
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 4.5%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.7%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 2.4%
See More Products 77.9%

Source: UN Comtrade Database, Latest data available.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import/Export Flows.

 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest data available.

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Saudi Riyal (SAR)
Exchange Rate Regime
The Saudi Arabian Riyal is pegged against a single currency i.e. US dollar.

Moreover Saudi Arabia imposes no foreign exchange restrictions on capital receipts or payments by residents or nonresidents, except there is a prohibition against transactions with Israel.

Level of Currency Instability
Low
Exchange Rate on :

 
 
Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Saudi Riyal (SAR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MAD 0.380.390.400.400.39

Source: World Bank, Latest data available.

 
 

Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency Converter.

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Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
International Economic Cooperation
Saudi Arabia is a member of the following international economic organisations: Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), ICC, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) G-20, G-77, IMF, Arab League, WTO, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates Saudi Arabia click here. International organisation membership of Saudi Arabia is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by Saudi Arabia can be consulted here.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
No

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Party of the TIR Convention
No

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
- Certificate of origin

- Commercial invoice (in triplicate) which must state the country of origin, name of the carrier, brand and number of goods, and description of the goods including weight and value

- A clean bill of lading or airway bill

- Documents indicating compliance with health regulations, if applicable

- Insurance documents if shipments are sent CIF; and Packing list. -packing list

-Certificate of conformity with applicable Saudi standards, if available

The original documents must be accompanied by an Arabic translation of a radiation certificate, if applicable.

To go further, check out our service Shipping Documents.

Free-trade zones
Saudi Arabia has no classical free-trade zones, but four “Economic Cities” with several incentives under the authority of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SA-GIA). The four economic cities are: King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah, Prince AbdulAziz Bin Mousaed Economic City in north-central Saudi Arabia, Knowledge Economic City in Medina, and Jazan Economic City near the southwest border with Yemen.
For Further Information
Saudi Arabia Department of Customs
Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Non Tariff Barriers
The documentary regulation, required for the expedition of goods in Saudi Arabia necessitate the following documents - commercial invoice, certificate of origin, airway bill, certificate of assurance (if CIF sale), SASO compliance certificate when applicable. These documents should be stamped by the following organisations: Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the exporter country, "bilateral" Chamber of Commerce, Consulate of Saudi Arabia from the exporter country.

Saudi Arabia forbids imports of certain items for religious or security reasons. It bans imports of alcohol and of non-medical drugs, and also most non-Islamic religious materials and other materials deemed offensive to Islamic principles. Weapons and electronic equipment are tightly controlled for security reasons. For meats, a sanitary certificate is required, and should be delivered by the veterinarian services of the exporter country, as well as a slaughter certificate according to the Islamic rites, which is delivered by the Competent Islamic Authority of the exporter country. These documents should be signed either by the "bilateral" Chamber of Commerce or by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
None
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Country's commercial policy, as seen by the WTO
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the EU
Sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, inventoried by the EU

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Standards

National Standards Organisations
Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation (SASO)
Integration in the International Standards Network
Saudi Arabia is a member of:

International Standard Organisation (ISO)

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

Obligation to Use Standards
The SASO mark is mandatory.

Ministry of Commerce and Industry is responsible for Certificate of Conformity (CoC) which is mandatory for all consumer goods entering the country.

Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) regulates import of telecommunications and IT products and services.

Classification of Standards
SASO has decided to adopt ISO 9000 as the accepted standard for Saudi Arabia, and acts as an accreditation body through the Quality Assurance Department. Nonetheless, SASO also accepts ASTM, NEMA, ANSI, UL, and NFPA standards.
Assessment of the System of Standardization
The certification programme known as the ICCP is applicable to 66 regulated products since 1995. The purpose of the programme is to ensure consumer protection and that products entering Saudi Arabia conform to SASO standards. SASO was in charge of implementing and monitoring the International Conformity Certification Program (ICCP) through an agreement with Intertek, which has a global presence. Currently conformity assessment can be requested through a number of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) like Bureau Veritas, SGS and TUV.
Online Consultation of Standards
Oum Al-Qura is the official gazette in which the regulations are published. For details, visit SASO website.
Certification Organisations
Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation (SASO)
The International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation of which Saudi Arabia is an affiliate member.
Associations of Standards Users
Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation (SASO)

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Latest Update: February 2024