"Merchandise exports in Q1 2020 recorded a decrease of 20.7%, corresponding to 51,518 riyals, from Q1 2019, as they amounted to 197,844 million riyals in Q1 2020 compared to 249,362 million riyals in Q1 2019. This decrease was mainly due to a decrease of 21.9% in oil exports, corresponding to a decline of 42,076 million riyals", the agency said.
According to the authority, the share of Saudi Arabia’s oil exports in the country’s total export operations declined from 77 percent in Q1 2019 to 75.8 percent in Q2 2020.
China was Riyadh's main partner for merchandise trade in Q1 2020, the agency noted, adding that exports to Beijing were estimated at over 35 million Saudi riyals. China was followed by Japan and India with 20,165 and 19,571 million riyals, respectively.
As a major oil exporter, Saudi Arabia has been affected hard by the pandemic and plummeting oil process. The oil market hit negative values for the first time in history in mid-April due to the numerous lockdowns.
The country's exports are limited by the commitments to the OPEC+ oil output arrangements. Under the 12 April agreement, the OPEC+ oil producers reached a consensus to collectively reduce oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for two months starting on 1 May. The deal stipulated that production would be cut by 7.7 million bpd for six months after that — until 31 December. From January 2021 until April 2022, oil production would be reduced by 5.8 million bpd.
On Saturday, the 23-nation alliance of oil producers agreed to extend the cuts until July with the 9.7 million bpd reduction unchanged. The OPEC+ energy ministers also agreed to hold output cut monitoring meetings every month for the rest of the year. The next meeting is scheduled for 18 June.