Madagascar flag Madagascar: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Madagascar

Foreign Trade in Figures

Foreign trade accounts for 50% of Madagascar’s GDP (World Bank), a country that collects a large share of its revenues in the form of customs duties, import taxes and VAT on imports. Madagascar is the 135th exporting economy in the world and the 134th importer (WTO). The country is a member of the WTO and COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and does not have significant non-tariff barriers. In addition, most products can be imported without an import license. The country mainly exports vanilla (22.2%), raw nickel (18.4%), clothing (9.1%), titanium ores (5%), cloves (4.2%), cobalt (3.9%), crustaceans (3.4%) and essential oils (2.8%). Its main imports are petroleum oils (13.6%), rice (6.2%), fabrics (2.7%), palm oil (2.6%), medicines (2.5%), and sugar (2%) (Comtrade, 2021).

Madagascar's main customers are France (19.2% of total exports), the United States, China, Japan, the Netherlands and Canada. Its main suppliers are China (19.4% of total imports), France, Oman, India, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and South Africa (Comtrade, 2021). Despite its abundant resources, Madagascar still struggles to channel its trade revenues into further development. Like other island states, Madagascar faces high transportation costs. The lack of well-developed infrastructure makes commercial transactions expensive, hindering private sector competitiveness. However, the country aims to improve logistics at the main ports and airports in order to improve trade. While the European Union is by far the largest client of Malagasy products, exports to member states of North American Free Trade Agreement have received a huge boost since 2017 following a decision by the United States to reinstate Madagascar in its trade preference programme (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act).

The country's trade balance has been traditionally negative and despite a steady increase in exports, this trend is unlikely to be reversed over the medium-term as imports continue to outpace exports. In 2021, merchandise exports amounted to USD 2.73 billion, while imports reached USD 4.41 billion. Exports of services amounted to USD 589 million, and imports reached USD 1.18 billion (WTO). In 2021, exports of goods and services increased by 11.6% compared to 2020, while imports increased by 7.3% (World Bank).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 4,0613,9423,2214,4085,471
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,1102,6962,0262,7263,609
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,3281,2288701,0910
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,3721,4696416330

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 67.862.649.054.571.2
Trade Balance (million USD) -458-844-900-969-970
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -414-603-1,129-1,407-1,352
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 11.14.6-16.612.719.8
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.410.9-36.655.027.5
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 36.334.228.931.740.1
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 31.528.420.122.831.1

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) 34.716.98.77.06.8
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 8.910.28.89.96.9

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Madagascar is a member of the WTO, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the South African Development Community (SADC)
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
United States 16.5%
France 15.7%
China 14.2%
Japan 12.0%
Netherlands 4.5%
See More Countries 37.1%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
China 21.5%
Oman 11.0%
India 10.0%
South Africa 4.9%
France 4.8%
See More Countries 47.7%

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

 
 

Main Products

3.5 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Unwrought nickelUnwrought nickel 24.7%
VanillaVanilla 15.1%
Cloves, whole fruit, cloves and stemsCloves, whole fruit, cloves and stems 7.8%
Cobalt mattes and other intermediate products of...Cobalt mattes and other intermediate products of cobalt metallurgy; cobalt and articles thereof, n.e.s.; cobalt waste and scrap (excl. ash and residues containing cobalt) 6.2%
Men's or boys' suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers,...Men's or boys' suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (excl. knitted or crocheted, wind-jackets and similar articles, separate waistcoats, tracksuits, ski suits and swimwear) 3.9%
See More Products 42.3%
5.5 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 18.0%
RiceRice 5.9%
Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined...Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 2.9%
Sulphur of all kinds (excl. sublimed sulphur,...Sulphur of all kinds (excl. sublimed sulphur, precipitated sulphur and colloidal sulphur) 2.8%
Fabrics, knitted or crocheted, of a width of > 30...Fabrics, knitted or crocheted, of a width of > 30 cm (excl. warp knit fabrics "incl. those made on galloon knitting machines", those containing by weight >= 5% of elastomeric yarn or rubber thread, and pile fabrics, incl. "long pile", looped pile fabrics, labels, badges and similar articles, and knitted or crocheted fabrics, impregnated, coated, covered or laminated) 2.7%
See More Products 67.8%

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: January 2024