Zambia flag Zambia: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Zambia

Foreign Trade in Figures

Zambia is open to foreign trade, which accounts for 68.8% of the country's GDP (World Bank, 2019). Zambia's trade policy aims to diversify its economy through privatization programs and the expansion of its export base. The country mainly exports copper (74.4%), cement (1.6%), tobacco (1.4%), electrical energy (1.4%), and sulphuric acid (1.2%). As for the country's main imports, they include mineral or chemical fertilizers (7.6%), petroleum oils (8.7%), medicaments (3.9%), and motor vehiacles (2.4%).

The country is a member of COMESA and has signed Interim Economic Partnership Agreements (Interim EPAs) with the European Commission. The country became a member of the WTO in 1995. Customs duties are high, but the country has few non-tariff trade barriers. Certain products such as crude oil, medical supplies, and fertilizers are exempt from import duties. However, irregularities in the tax system and high transportation costs are real trade barriers. Zambian products are oriented towards Switzerland, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Singapore, and South Africa, while the country mainly imports from South Africa, China, the United Arab Emirates, India, and the United States.

Zambia's trade balance has been experiencing a structural surplus in recent years. In 2020, exports of goods amounted to USD 7.8 billion, while imports reached USD 5.3 billion, resulting in a trade balance of USD 3.2 billion. As for services, exports reached USD 554 million, while imports amounted to USD 1.1 billion, amounting to a trade balance of USD 2.6 billion (WTO).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 7,0457,9839,4667,1805,323
Exports of Goods (million USD) 5,8018,0079,0347,0477,819
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,3931,4671,6161,4741,150
Exports of Services (million USD) 8858659531,012554

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 74.071.674.968.8n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -49605147443,221
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -512351-2102222,623
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 38.636.636.934.2n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 35.335.038.034.6n/a

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) -8.511.18.05.08.2
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) -7.73.63.53.712.6

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
• Cotonou Agreement
• African Growth and Opportunity Act beneficiary country
• China Special Preferential Agreement
• Member of World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995
• Member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
• Member of
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2020
Switzerland 44.3%
China 18.7%
Democratic Republic of Congo 12.4%
Singapore 11.6%
South Africa 2.6%
See More Countries 10.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2020
South Africa 33.2%
China 16.8%
United Arab Emirates 8.8%
India 5.4%
United States 2.2%
See More Countries 33.6%

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

 
 

Main Products

7.8 bn USD of products exported in 2020
Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic...Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic refining 53.9%
Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought ...Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought (excl. copper alloys of heading 7405) 18.2%
Copper ores and concentratesCopper ores and concentrates 2.3%
Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not...Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not coloured 1.6%
Unmanufactured tobacco; tobacco refuseUnmanufactured tobacco; tobacco refuse 1.4%
See More Products 22.6%
5.3 bn USD of products imported in 2020
Mineral or chemical fertilizers containing two or...Mineral or chemical fertilizers containing two or three of the fertilizing elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; other fertilizers (excl. pure animal or vegetable fertilizers or mineral or chemical nitrogenous, phosphatic or potassic fertilizers); animal, vegetable, mineral or chemical fertilizers in tablets or similar forms or in packages of a gross weight of <= 10 kg 4.6%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 4.4%
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%
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) 3.9%
Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilizers (excl....Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilizers (excl. those in pellet or similar forms, or in packages with a gross weight of <= 10 kg) 3.0%
See More Products 79.9%

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

0.9 bn USD of services exported in 2017
75.44%
9.86%
5.64%
4.28%
4.10%
0.66%
1.5 bn USD of services imported in 2017
58.95%
14.82%
8.28%
3.86%
3.78%
3.26%
3.04%
2.64%
0.96%
0.27%
0.15%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: September 2022

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