Over the past several decades, Yemen has relied more and more on imports, but, despite periodic peaks in the amount of imports, Yemen's oil exports have kept its trade balance positive. In 2000, exports stood at US$4.2 billion, while imports were worth US$2.7 billion. In addition to legitimate trade, the smuggling of firearms, alcohol, and consumer goods to and from Saudi Arabia is rampant on the Red Sea. Yemen imports a wide variety of goods, except oil and oil products. Neighboring Gulf countries, mainly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, supply the majority of Yemen's imports, followed by France, the United States, and Italy.
Oil accounts for over 85 percent of total sales abroad. Non-oil exports include semi-processed agricultural products, mostly foods. Given its weak industrial base, oil is expected to remain the country's major export. Sales of liquefied natural gas are expected to surge, but the prospects for that eventuality are far from certain. Yemen exports the majority of its oil to Asia, especially Thailand, China, South Korea, and Singapore.