Ukraine is a key player in the global market, particularly with agricultural products. In 2021, the country ranked second in grain exports globally, behind only the United States. According to the UN, grain from Ukraine fed more than 400 million people worldwide and accounted for 10% of all crops sold. As for wheat, in 2021, the country became the sixth-largest producer in the world.
But Ukrainian exports are not limited to grain. The country is also known for its metallurgical complex, mineral products, transportation services, unique IT services, and even honey. In 2021, Ukraine’s exports grew by almost 20 million dollars compared to 2020. But in 2022, as Russia started its full-scale war, this number fell by 35%.
Top Ukrainian exports: goods and services
In 2021, the largest percentage of Ukraine’s exports was accounted for by agricultural and food products, namely 40.7%. The leaders of this industry are oil as a processed product, cereals (wheat, corn, etc.), sugar, confectionery, vegetables and fruits, and flour products.
The metallurgical complex is in second place with 23.5%, and the third place is held by mineral products (oil and its distillation products, ores, slag, ash, etc.) with 9%. In particular, Ukraine exports machine-building products: it supplies Canada with special equipment used in snowy winter conditions and the EU with fishing vessels, spare parts for railcars and locomotives. In addition, сar trailers from Ukraine are supplied to Kenya.
Ukraine also actively exports honey. In 2021, our country ranked second among honey exporters. Even in 2023, despite Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine remains prominent in this field. In the first six months of the year, Ukraine exported 24.7 thousand tons of honey, worth $60 million.
Other exports include chemicals, wood and paper pulp, and light industry products. The largest percentage of Ukraine’s exports of goods went to the European Union, followed by Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Australia.
In 2021, exports of services grew by 10.9% compared to 2020. Transportation services took the first place here. IT and communication services were second, followed by business and travel services, repair and maintenance, insurance, and others.
In addition, the export of IT services (Internet service providers, security services and maintenance of video surveillance systems, computer maintenance services, and electronic communication services) is perhaps the only area that grew in 2022. Last November alone, this segment grew by 8% per month. In total, the IT sector earned 7% more from exports over 11 months in 2022 than in the same period in 2021: $6.6 billion versus $6.2 billion.
The top two partners for Ukraine’s service exports in 2021 were the European Union and the United States.
Ukraine exports: impact of the war
In January-February 2022, Ukrainian exports showed positive growth dynamics compared to the same period a year earlier, with an increase in exports of 34%.
However, in March, after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, there was a drastic collapse in supplies abroad, with a 50% decline. According to the analysis of 2022, Ukraine’s exports of goods amounted to 100 million tons, totaling USD 44.2 billion, which is 35% less than in 2021. The most affected sectors were metallurgy (-62.5%), chemicals (-54.3%), minerals (-48.6%), and paper (-48%).
Food and agricultural products remained the largest part of Ukrainian exports, accounting for 53% in 2022. The Black Sea Grain Initiative largely contributed to this by partially unblocking Ukrainian ports for grain vessels. From the start of the deal on August 1, 2022, to July 16, 2023, Ukraine managed to export 32.9 million tons of agricultural products.
Ukraine’s wheat exports are essential for countries in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, where people are at risk of increased food prices and even food shortages if those supply lines are disrupted. As reported by the World Food Program, Lebanon, Djibouti, Pakistan, Somalia, Mauritania, and Eritrea meet more than half of their wheat needs from Ukraine.
In July 2023, Russia dropped out of the crucial deal and threatened all ships heading towards Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea. However, Ukraine continues to look for ways to supply the world with grain. As of September 19, two vessels entered the port of Chornomorsk to load almost 20,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat through a temporary corridor for civilian vessels.
Despite the war, Ukraine remains a key player in global markets and continues to develop and export unique services and digital products. In particular, the service “Diia”: it allows citizens to access identity documents, register businesses, as well as receive various government services online, even from their smartphones. The Ministry of Digital Transformation is now negotiating the export of the Diia service with 10 countries around the world.