flag Sierra Leone Sierra Leone: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Sierra Leone has an open economy in which trade accounts for around 52% of the country’s GDP (World Bank, 2020). The country's trade policy is a part of global strategy to reduce poverty and is in compliance with its commitment to ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States). Customs duties are relatively high in Sierra Leone. Despite having few trade barriers, the country has very few bilateral investment agreements. A more restrictive trade regime was put in place in 2017 with selective tariffs on imports and the launch of the "Made in Sierra Leone" (BAD) initiative. The factors favoring foreign trade are the rapid expansion of the telecommunications sector, unrestricted conversion or transfer of foreign investment funds, and the absence of legal restrictions on obtaining foreign exchange. Sierra Leone mainly exports minerals (titanium, aluminium, etc.), wood, precious stones (diamonds), cocoa, fish, machinery coffee and vehicles. Cereals and other food products, machinery, vehicles and pharmaceutical products account for the bulk of the country's imports (ITC, 2020).

The top three destinations for goods exports were Côte d'Ivoire, Belgium and the United States, accounting for 39.5%, 22.4% and 22.1% of total exports respectively. The main partners for imports of goods were China (13.3%), Senegal (12.3%) and the United Arab Emirates (9.1%) (UN Comtrade, 2019). Sierra Leone’s trade was severely impacted by the Ebola outbreak, lower prices for iron ore, the closure of the country's largest iron mine (the Tonkolili facility), and the Covid-19 pandemic. However, economic activity started to recover in 2021. The ramp-up of production at the Tonkolili and Marampa sites, and the opening of the country's first cocoa processing plant in November 2021 are expected to boost exports.

Sierra Leone’s trade balance is structurally in deficit and this trend is expected to continue considering the country’s fledgling industry and lack of agricultural productivity. In 2020 Sierra Leone exported USD 368 million in goods and imported USD 1.26 billion. In 2019, services exports fell to USD 64 million, while imports reached USD 404 million (WTO, latest data available). The trade deficit reached USD 721 million in 2019, an increase compared to 2018 (USD 571 million) (World Bank, latest data available). Trade deficit is expected to shrink thanks to the recovery in exports, but it will remain substantial due to the country’s dependence on imports (Coface). 

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 1,5601,3011,3541,5761,257
Exports of Goods (million USD) 635567554619368
Imports of Services (million USD) n/a4203704040
Exports of Services (million USD) n/a14592640
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 246-1216-3
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2223-3461-22
Trade Balance (million USD) -318-551-571-721n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 7974575450
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 5548393837
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 2526171613

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs duties

 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
International Economic Cooperation
Member of ECOWAS - Economic Community of West African States
Useful Resources
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
You can contact the Administrator and Registrar by Email.
 
 
 

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Latest Update: May 2022

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