Ever since the era of oil began after World War II, the priceless mineral has been Kuwait's main export product. Thanks to the huge revenue from oil sales, the government accumulated surplus money and invested abroad. Many of these reserve investments were cashed in during the Iraqi occupation and the liberation period to meet the expenses of Kuwait and the allied coalition. By the mid-1990s the value of exports exceeded the costs of imports by US$4 billion. Trade surplus hit a low in 1998, due to declining oil prices but began rising again in 1999. Figures show a US$2.7 billion increase to US$13.5 billion in the value of exports, and a US$1 billion drop in imports, which totaled US$8.1 billion, compared to 1998. By 2000, the World Factbook estimated
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Kuwait|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
that exports totaled US$23.2 billion and imports totaled US$7.6 billion.
Because of Kuwait's small domestic manufacturing sector, the country's imports for its high-income economy are finished products, which come primarily from the United States and Japan. In 1999, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit , 15.4 percent of imports came from the United States, 10.2 percent from Japan, 7.3 percent from Germany, and 7.1 percent from the United Kingdom. Japan, however, led Kuwait's export markets, absorbing 22.8 percent, followed by the United States at 11.5 percent, Singapore 8.2 percent, and the Netherlands 7.3 percent.