Benin flag Benin: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Benin

Foreign Trade in Figures

Benin is open to foreign trade which represents 63% of its GDP (World Bank). The country is a member of various trade organizations including the World Trade Organisation and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). The vast majority of its trade passes through the port of Cotonou, the capacity of which the government wants to develop.

Benin mainly exports cotton (61% of total exports), cashew nut, coconut, Brazilian nuts, shea nuts, petroleum products, cement, gold, textile products, and seafood to Bangladesh, India, China, Vietnam, Chad, Niger and Egypt. Its main imports are food products (rice, meat, frozen fish), oil products, drugs, vehicles and capital goods from India, China, France, Belgium, Togo, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. It is also quite active in re-exportation, from Nigeria mainly.

For years now, Benin has had a structural trade deficit. In 2021, the trade deficit in goods amounted to USD 888 million (WTO). This is mainly due to low exports which are largely made up of low-cost agricultural products, and the country’s heavy reliance on foreign countries for its oil and energy supply. According to WTO data, in 2021, Benin exported goods with a total value of USD 3.4 billion while it imported goods worth USD 4.3 billion. Concerning services, Benin exported USD 555 million worth of services in 2021 and imported USD 984 million worth of services (WTO). In 2022, net imports deteriorated due to the post-pandemic reduction in shortages, food and energy inflation, and the depreciation of the CFA franc against the dollar (Coface).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 4,3753,9323,5554,3704,784
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,3443,0522,9963,4343,547
Imports of Services (million USD) 769806790931982
Exports of Services (million USD) 503528510512540

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 61.863.744.848.150.9
Trade Balance (million USD) -556-444-156-352n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -821-722-436-772n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.83.4-19.816.818.5
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 5.08.6-25.012.619.1
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 34.534.125.027.129.3
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 27.329.619.920.921.7

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 23.314.211.511.09.8
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 25.612.89.19.87.9

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Benin is a member of the WTO, the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
Bangladesh 45.3%
India 11.9%
China 6.1%
Egypt 4.5%
Pakistan 4.2%
See More Countries 28.0%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
India 15.7%
China 13.1%
France 8.1%
United Arab Emirates 6.7%
Nigeria 5.1%
See More Countries 51.3%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

0.9 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Cotton, neither carded nor combedCotton, neither carded nor combed 64.8%
Other oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, whether or...Other oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, whether or not broken (excl. edible nuts, olives, soya beans, groundnuts, copra, linseed, rape or colza seeds and sunflower seeds) 4.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 4.3%
Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or...Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled 3.6%
Oilcake and other solid residues, whether or not...Oilcake and other solid residues, whether or not ground or in the form of pellets, resulting from the extraction of vegetable fats or oils (excl. from soya-bean oil and groundnut oil) 3.2%
See More Products 19.3%
3.7 bn USD of products imported in 2022
RiceRice 18.2%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 15.0%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.3%
Mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or...Mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or three of the fertilising elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; other fertilisers (excl. pure animal or vegetable fertilisers or mineral or chemical nitrogenous, phosphatic or potassic fertilisers); animal, vegetable, mineral or chemical fertilisers in tablets or similar forms or in packages of a gross weight of <= 10 kg 3.2%
Meat and edible offal of fowls of the species...Meat and edible offal of fowls of the species Gallus domesticus, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowls, fresh, chilled or frozen 3.0%
See More Products 57.2%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

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Latest Update: November 2023

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