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Non-oil exports, re-exports helped Saudi Arabia mitigate oil price volatility in 2021

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s non-oil exports helped mitigate some of the negative impact from the volatility in the Kingdom’s oil exports revenues, data compiled by Arab News reveals.

The volatility in non-oil exports revenues on a yearly basis was relatively milder than that for oil exports, according to a recent statistical release from by the General Authority for Statistics, also known as GASTAT.

The country’s non-oil exports fell 10 and 8 percent in pre-pandemic 2019 and pandemic stricken 2020, respectively.

Over the same period, the Kingdom’s oil export revenues experienced a fall of 13 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

In 2021 non-oil exports rose 37 percent year-on-year in value terms compared to a 73-percent growth in oil exports revenues, according to GASTAT data.

Oil exports jumped to SR772.8 billion ($206.1 billion) in 2021 from SR447.6 billion in 2020 as globally pandemic restrictions eased.

The Kingdom’s non-oil national exports, that is excluding re-exports, grew to SR231.3 billion in 2021 from SR168 billion in 2020.

The 2021 annual rate of growth in national non-oil exports in value terms was the highest in the past four years, having outpaced the 26-percent growth posted in 2018.

As a result, the share of non-oil exports in total exports, excluding re-exports, reached 27.4 percent in 2020 

The ratio declined to 23 percent in 2021 as oil exports revenue jumped, however it managed to post an increase of 4 percentage points compared to 2018 when the share stood at 19 percent.


Re-exports have been another foreign trade category, which helped support the country’s foreign earnings over the past few years, data compiled by Arab News shows.

The value of re-exports increased to SR43.6 billion in 2021 from SR31.7 billion in 2018, which translates to a growth of 38 percent. 

Revenues from re-exports posted an annual growth of 32 percent and 23 percent in 2019 and 2021, respectively, while it recorded a fall of 15 percent in the pandemic year 2020.

Quarterly dynamics

Looking at the quarterly data where a breakdown by goods grouping is provided in the GASTAT release, the two most important groups impacting the dynamics of non-exports — each with about one-third share in total exports including re-exports — have remained chemical products and the plastic products.

Exports of chemicals including re-exports grew to SR26 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, 73 percent more compared to the same quarter of 2020. 

Over the same period, exports of plastics increased to SR24.4 billion, reflecting an annual growth of 32 percent.

Compared to the third quarter of 2021, chemical exports grew 22 percent and 1 percent for plastics. 

As a result, the share of chemicals in total non-oil exports including re-exports increased to 33 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021 from 26.2 percent in the same quarter of 2020. Over the same period, the share of plastics decreased by 1 percentage point to 31 percent.

Exports of vehicles and transport equipment as well as base metals — re-exports included — reached SR8 billion  and SR6.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, respectively. 

These two goods groupings saw annual growth rates of 19 percent and 38 percent, respectively and 54 percent and 14 percent, on a quarterly basis, respectively.

December 2021

In the last month of 2021, the value of Kingdom’s national non-oil exports stood at SR23 billion, up 43 percent from December 2020. Non-oil exports were little changed from November.

Looking at the breakdown of the December non-oil exports including re-exports, chemicals saw 93 percent growth year-on-year compared to 29 percent year-on-year for plastics. 

The two main groups of Saudi non-oil exports witnessed a monthly growth of 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Exports of vehicles and transport equipment surged to SR4 billion in December, having posted annual and monthly growth of 153 percent and 113 percent, respectively.

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