Saudi Arabia records trade surplus in Q2 despite dip in oil exports

Oil exports dropped to SR227.7 bn in Q2 2023
Saudi Arabia records trade surplus in Q2 despite dip in oil exports
Oil tanker

According to the latest General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) report, Saudi Arabia had a trade surplus of SR113 bn ($30.12 bn) in the second quarter (Q2) of 2023. This comes despite a drop in oil exports in the same period.

Trade balance refers to the difference between the country’s merchandise exports and imports. A surplus means that the exports are higher than imports.

Elsewhere in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), countries also recorded positive trade balances in recent periods. In 2022, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) obtained a surplus of $174 bn. Meanwhile, Bahrain and Oman achieved a surplus worth $14.25 bn and $26.02 bn, respectively, last year.

In the same period, Kuwait had a trade surplus amounting to $69.47 bn, while Qatar saw its trade balance hitting a positive $96.61 bn.

Saudi’s trade statistics

From April to June, the kingdom’s merchandise exports hit SR291.6 bn. This figure is 31.8 percent lower than the SR427.8 bn recorded in Q2 of 2022.

This drop in exports is primarily because of the kingdom’s cuts in its oil exports. In Q2 2023, the value of oil exports slipped from SR227.7 bn coming from SR341.6 bn during the same period last year.

In April, OPEC+, or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, decided to decrease global oil output. In particular, Saudi, which is also the top oil exporter in the world, trimmed its production by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd). 

In June, Saudi further reduced its output by 1 mn bpd. The decision is still ongoing and expected to last till year end. 

In terms of non-oil exports, the kingdom recorded a dip of 25.9 percent if re-exports were included. The value amounted to SR63.9 bn in Q2 2023 compared to Q2 2022’s SR86.2 bn. When re-exports are not included, the decrease will be 30.8 percent.

In the latest GASTAT report, the kingdom’s merchandise imports increased from SR175.4 bn in Q2 of this year to SR178.9 bn during last year’s Q2.

Among all non-oil export products, chemical and allied products were the top performers, accounting for 29.6 percent of total exports excluding oil.

Read: Volume of Saudi-Chinese trade exchange reached SAR1.2 trn

China is Kingdom’s key trading partner

In Q2, China served as Saudi’s top merchandise trading partner. The Kingdom sent exports to the Asian giant amounting to SR48.8 bn, which is about 16.7 percent of total exports. Taking the second and third places are Japan (SR26.9 bn) and India (SR26.8 bn).

When it comes to imports, China also took the top spot, sending Saudi commodities worth SR34.7 bn or 20.9 percent of all imports by the kingdom. The US and the UAE followed with SR15.1 bn and SR10.6 bn, respectively.

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