Tanzania flag Tanzania: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Tanzania

Foreign Trade in Figures

Tanzania is open to foreign trade, which represents 30% of its GDP (World Bank). The country's trade policy aims to create local industries that are more competitive and to diversify its export sector in order to stimulate economic growth. Tanzania mainly exports gold (48.72% of total exports), nuts (6.3%), precious metal ores (5.89%), vegetables, coffee, cereals and tobacco (ITC, 2020). The main imports are petroleum (16.25% of total imports), machinery (11.18%), vehicles (8.84%), electrical equipment (7.86%), plastics, pharmaceutical products, iron, cereals and fertilizers (ITC, 2020).

Tanzania's main suppliers are China (25.3% of total imports), India (12.8%), the United Arab Emirates (9.7%), Japan (4.4%), South Africa (4.1%) and Saudi Arabia (4%). Its main customers are South Africa (19.1% of total exports), Switzerland (14.3%), the United Arab Emirates (12.4%), India (8.7%), China (3.9%), Kenya (3.8%) and Vietnam (3.8%) (ITC, 2020). Low customs duties (the average applied tariff rate is 7%) and few trade restrictions make the country easily accessible for international trade. Trade barriers are mainly of a logistic and non-tariff nature. For example, increased traffic in and out of the Dar es Salaam port - the main port of entry and exit of merchandise for both Tanzania and its landlocked neighbouring countries (Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia) - has not been followed up with the necessary infrastructural investments. This constitutes one of the main barriers to trade with these countries. Poorly maintained roads and railroads also make trade difficult. However, the government has launched a large number of projects to improve infrastructure. Obtaining construction permits, registering land, and tax payments remain difficult nonetheless. Tanzania is a member of the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and as such, the country has trade relations with the member countries as well as the EU and the United States.

Tanzania suffers from a chronic trade deficit due to a capital-intensive growth model highly demanding for oil and capital goods imports. However, trade deficit is expected to decrease sharply in the future due to the increase in coal and hydrocarbon reserves. In 2019, the deficit reached USD -3.22 billion (World Bank). In 2020, merchandise exports reached USD 6.06 billion, while imports amounted to USD 7.89 billion (WTO). Exports of services reached USD 2.29 billion, while imports amounted to USD 1.14 billion (WTO). In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trade volume dropped significantly. Tanzanian trade deficit decreased due to lower imports of capital goods, but it soared again in 2021 with the recovery and increase in oil prices. Imports related to infrastructure projects, as well as medical equipment and vaccines, will weigh on the trade balance of goods, while the services account will continue to register rising surplus (Coface).

Foreign Trade Values 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 9,3009,1209,4527,88910,024
Exports of Goods (million USD) 4,1134,0415,0056,0616,391
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,9521,8401,6691,1441,719
Exports of Services (million USD) 3,8304,0004,2762,2873,228

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 32.232.633.029.631.4
Trade Balance (million USD) -3,041-4,190-3,415-1,517n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,249-2,092-917-626n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -7.116.7-1.4-7.613.3
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -4.1-1.719.0-8.62.2
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 17.117.917.015.317.1
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 15.114.716.014.314.3

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20222023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (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
Member of the WTO - World Trade Organization

Member of EAC - East African Community

Member of SADC - Southern African Development Community

African Growth and Opportunity Act beneficiary country


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United Arab Emirates 16.5%
India 15.8%
South Africa 14.3%
Switzerland 8.2%
Kenya 6.2%
See More Countries 39.0%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 24.8%
United Arab Emirates 12.5%
India 11.1%
Saudi Arabia 6.2%
Japan 4.3%
See More Countries 41.1%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


Main Products

6.4 bn USD of products exported in 2021
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 42.9%
RiceRice 4.7%
Dried leguminous vegetables, shelled, whether or...Dried leguminous vegetables, shelled, whether or not skinned or split 4.2%
Waste and scrap of precious metal or of metal clad...Waste and scrap of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal; other waste and scrap containing precious metal or precious-metal compounds, of a kind used principally for the recovery of precious metal (excl. waste and scrap melted down into unworked blocks, ingots, or similar forms) 3.0%
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated;...Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 2.7%
See More Products 42.5%
10.9 bn USD of products imported in 2021
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 19.4%
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%
Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel,...Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, of a width >= 600 mm, hot-rolled, not clad, plated or coated 3.1%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.2%
Wheat and meslinWheat and meslin 2.0%
See More Products 69.9%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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


Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: January 2023

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