KSA: In October, Saudi Arabia demonstrated economic resilience with a 7% increase in trade volume, reaching SR 178 billion ($47.45 billion) compared to SR 167 billion in September, according to government data.

Despite this overall positive trend, a closer look reveals nuanced shifts in the country’s export dynamics. The General Authority of Statistics reported a slight increase of SR 15 million or 0.01% in total merchandise exports in October compared to the previous month. However, a more substantial decline of 17.4% was observed year-on-year, dropping to SR 104.3 billion from SR 126.2 billion in October 2022. This downturn was primarily driven by an 18.3% decrease in oil exports, amounting to SR 18.4 billion, as stated in the GASTAT report. The share of oil in total exports also decreased from 79.7% last year to 78.9% in October 2023.

Non-oil Exports

However, the non-oil export sector faced its own challenges, recording a 13.9% decrease to SR22 billion in October from SR 25.6 billion in the previous year. Notably, chemical and allied industries, integral components of non-oil export goods, reported a significant annual decline of 31.9% to SR 6.96 billion. Similarly, exports of plastic and rubber goods experienced a 6.9% drop to SR 6.02 billion, constituting 27.3% of the total non-oil export pie.

China emerged as the primary destination for Saudi exports in October, with a total value of SR 19.5 billion, commanding 18.7% of the Kingdom’s exports. Japan and India followed with SR 2.3 billion and SR 10.2 billion, respectively. The top 10 destinations included South Korea, the UAE, the US, Taiwan, Bahrain, Poland, and Egypt, showcasing the global reach of Saudi Arabia’s trade connections.

Imports

On the import side, October witnessed a notable increase of 11.5%, reaching SR 73.9 billion from SR 66.3 billion in the year-ago period. This figure also represented a 17.5% rise or SR 11 billion compared to September. Machinery, mechanical appliances, and electrical equipment were the most imported goods, constituting 22.3% of total merchandise imports. This category saw a substantial 21.8% rise in October to SR16.49 billion compared to SR 12.75 billion in the same month last year.

Saudi Arabia’s trade data highlights economic resilience amid challenges. Diversification in the non-oil sector and strategic global trade connections showcase the adaptability of the Saudi economy. Increased imports, particularly in machinery, suggest ongoing development, contributing to overall economic stability and growth.