Burkina Faso flag Burkina Faso: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Burkina Faso

Foreign Trade in Figures

Burkina Faso is open to foreign trade which represents 59% of the country’s GDP (World bank, latest available data). As part of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Burkina Faso has regulated its tariff structure. Goods produced in the Union are exempt from import tax. While customs duties (apart from oil) have been reduced from 200% to 43.8% (WTO), they continue to account for around 13% of total tax revenue (World Bank). However, internal and external crisis (in neighboring Mali), as well as the actions of radical groups in the Sahel, have had a negative impact on trade and the industrial outlook. The future railway linking Burkina Faso and Ghana is expected to strengthen trade between the two countries.

Gold is the greatest export (77.4% of its total exports). Burkina Faso is one of the largest exporters of cotton in West Africa, and its production of cotton has quadrupled in the past ten years. However, the commodity has seen its share in the exports decrease from 15.8% of total exports in 2016 to 9% in 2021 (Comtrade). The country’s main imports are petroleum oils (22.8%), vehicles (4.4%), drugs (4.2%), cement (4%), electrical energy (3.1%), and petroleum gas (2.5%). Burkina Faso mainly exports to Switzerland (72.7%), India (9.6%), Singapore (3.8%), Ivory Coast (3.6%), and Mali (1.6%); while imports come chiefly from China (13.9%), Ivory Coast (8.5%), France (7.8%), the USA (6.9%) and Ghana (5.9%) (Comtrade).

Burkina Faso’s trade balance is structurally negative, but trade deficit has been decreasing gradually over the past years due to increased gold and cotton exports and lower imports. The balance of trade turned positive during the pandemic due to reduced imports. According to WTO data, in 2021 exports of goods rose to USD 5.04 billion, while imports of goods increased to USD 4.61 billion. Services exports generated USD 573 million while services imports cost the country USD 1.51 billion (WTO). In 2022, trade deficit amounted to FCFA 640.4 billion (INSD).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 4,3014,2844,1264,6145,504
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,2543,2394,3725,0434,518
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,5031,4611,2621,4161,582
Exports of Services (million USD) 557540509556495

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 59.360.658.7n/an/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -52903661,3301,259
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -898-656-555577399
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 10.18.58.6n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 8.515.2-1.9n/an/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 32.832.531.0n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 26.528.127.6n/an/a

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) 0.54.22.62.64.6
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 4.05.64.74.74.1

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Burkina Faso is a member of WTO since 1995. The country is also a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
Switzerland 68.8%
Mali 6.7%
United Arab Emirates 4.3%
Singapore 3.8%
Ivory Coast 3.7%
See More Countries 12.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
China 12.9%
Ivory Coast 10.6%
France 9.3%
Russia 7.8%
India 6.3%
See More Countries 53.1%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

4.6 bn USD of products exported in 2022
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 74.1%
Cotton, neither carded nor combedCotton, neither carded nor combed 10.1%
Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or...Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled 3.2%
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) 2.6%
Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not...Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not coloured 1.8%
See More Products 8.2%
5.6 bn USD of products imported in 2022
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 32.3%
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) 3.7%
Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not...Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not coloured 3.1%
RiceRice 2.5%
Electrical energyElectrical energy 2.4%
See More Products 56.1%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. 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: December 2023