Democratic Republic of Congo flag Democratic Republic of Congo: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Foreign Trade in Figures

The DRC is open to international trade, which represents 95% of its GDP (World Bank, latest data available). With 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1,100 minerals and precious metals, the DRC has the potential to become one of the major exporting countries on the continent and a driver of African growth. The country mainly exports refined copper (USD 16.3b), cobalt (USD 5.99b), copper ore (USD 1.55b), raw copper (USD 1.37b), and crude petroleum (USD 916m), while imports are led by refined petroleum (USD 1.12b), sulphur (USD 979m), delivery trucks (USD 367m), stone processing machines (USD 363m), and iron structures (USD 285m – data OEC 2022). Between 2020 and 2022, copper exports from the Democratic Republic of Congo surged by nearly 50%, climbing from 1.601 million tonnes in 2020 to 2.394 million tonnes in 2022, with intermediate figures of 1.797 million tonnes in 2021. This remarkable growth is primarily attributed to the surge in copper prices, which soared by 51.3% to an average of USD 9,299.3 per tonne in 2021, substantially boosting the export value of copper. Additionally, cobalt exports increased from 86,590 tonnes in 2020 to 115,371 tonnes in 2022, with an estimated 93,010 tonnes in 2021.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s key export partners are China (USD 15.6B), Singapore (USD 1.36B), United Arab Emirates (USD 1.3B), Hong Kong (USD 1.24B), and Tanzania (USD 1.17B), with imports coming chiefly from China (USD 5.06B), Zambia (USD 1.51B), South Africa (USD 1.47B), United Arab Emirates (USD 734M), and India (USD 680M – data OEC 2022).

Although the DRC's trade balance was structurally negative, the takeover of the raw material prices plays in favor of the exports growth and of the rebalancing of current accounts, making the country’s trade balance turn positive in the last few years. According to figures by WTO, exports of goods totaled USD 28.2 billion in 2022, against USD 11 billion in imports. As per services, the DRC is a net importer (USD 4.5 billion in imports vs. USD 109 million in exports).

Foreign Trade Values 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 8,8256,9387,21411,40711,600
Exports of Goods (million USD) 13,38214,23021,41215,67216,400
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,2602,6913,94800
Exports of Services (million USD) 14214416900

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 69.955.258.580.598.9
Trade Balance (million USD) 9944001,9233,940n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,693-1,719-624161n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 22.6-15.312.043.624.9
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 37.429.429.940.150.9
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 32.625.928.640.448.0

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change)
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change)

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

International Economic Cooperation
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a member of the following organizations:

South African Development Community (SADC)
• World Trade Organisation (WTO)
• Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC)
• Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
• Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
• Organisation for Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa (OHADA)
African Union (AU)


To go further, check out our service Import-Export Flows.


Main Services

0.2 bn USD of services exported in 2021
4.0 bn USD of services imported in 2021

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2024. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: May 2024