Benin flag Benin: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Benin

Foreign Trade in Figures

Benin is open to foreign trade which represents 45% 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 (53.4% of total exports), cashew nut, coconut, Brazilian nuts, shea nuts, petroleum products, cement, gold, textile products, and seafood to Bangladesh, India, China, Malaysia, Ukraine, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. Its main imports are food products (rice, meat, frozen fish), oil products, energy, drugs, vehicles and capital goods from India, China, France, Togo, Belgium, Russia and Turkey. It is also quite active in re-exportation, from Nigeria mainly.

For years now, Benin has had a structural trade deficit. In 2020, the trade deficit in goods amounted to USD 947 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 2020, Benin exported goods with a total value of USD 2.3 billion while it imported goods worth USD 3.3 billion. Concerning services, Benin exported USD 410 million worth of services in 2020 and imported USD 578 million worth of services.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 3,4944,3753,9323,2634,333
Exports of Goods (million USD) 2,2163,3443,0522,3163,445
Imports of Services (million USD) 577762803578984
Exports of Services (million USD) 323485510410555

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 59.061.561.863.744.8
Trade Balance (million USD) -111-344-556-449n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -526-704-821-727n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.314.34.83.4-19.8
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 13.57.05.08.6-25.0
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 31.434.334.534.125.0
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 27.627.227.329.619.9

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 2022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) -15.27.110.911.010.6
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) -9.55.98.913.311.4

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)
2021
Bangladesh 41.7%
India 10.0%
China 9.8%
Vietnam 5.0%
Chad 3.6%
See More Countries 29.9%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2021
India 17.2%
China 11.7%
France 11.0%
Belgium 5.6%
Togo 4.2%
See More Countries 50.4%

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

 
 

Main Products

1.0 bn USD of products exported in 2021
Cotton, neither carded nor combedCotton, neither carded nor combed 61.0%
Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or...Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled 4.8%
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) 4.0%
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 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) 3.1%
See More Products 23.5%
3.2 bn USD of products imported in 2021
RiceRice 20.1%
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 10.5%
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%
Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish...Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 0304) 3.6%
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 3.4%
See More Products 58.5%

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

 
 

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Latest Update: November 2022