Namibia flag Namibia: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Namibia

Foreign Trade in Figures

Namibia is very open to foreign trade, which represents 76% of the country’s GDP (World Bank). Customs duties are low and there are no major trade barriers. The country's economy is closely linked to that of South Africa, with the Namibian dollar pegged to the South African rand. The country is a member of the SACU (Southern African Customs Union) and SADC (Southern African Development Community), whose free-trade zone (FTZ) was inaugurated in 2008. Namibia also ratified the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. In 2016, the EU signed an EPA with the SADC EPA Group comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. Copper, diamonds, uranium, gold, fish, cobalt and live animals continue to lead the market for export commodities. Copper, mineral fuels and oils, diamonds, vehicles, and cobalt lead the list of major imports to Namibia.

Namibia's exports are mainly directed to China (34.1% of exports), South Africa (14.5%), Botswana, Belgium, Spain, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. South Africa (36.2% of imports), Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Bulgaria, India and the United States are the main suppliers.

Namibia’s trade balance is structurally in deficit because of Namibia’s high demand for high-valued manufactured commodities and machinery, and exports of mainly primary commodities that are of low value, with the exception of diamonds. Nonetheless, the trade deficit has followed a downward trend in recent years, dropping from USD -2.9 billion in 2015 to USD -907 million in 2020 (World Bank). This trend is expected to continue thanks to higher exports of uranium and fishery products, and lower imports resulting from weak consumption and low oil prices. In 2020, merchandise exports amounted to USD 5.6 billion, while imports reached USD 6.8 billion. Exports of services reached USD 352 million, while imports amounted to USD 419 million (WTO). Exports of goods and services decreased by -17.7% compared to 2019, while imports decreased by-15.7%. After the decrease in trade volume due to the Covid-19 pandemic, mining exports are expected to rebound in 2022, and services should benefit from a revival in tourism (Coface).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 6,6888,2898,0866,8239,122
Exports of Goods (million USD) 4,7997,4886,2565,6006,696
Imports of Services (million USD) 637533539419589
Exports of Services (million USD) 693728646352413

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 94.081.281.681.974.5
Trade Balance (million USD) -2,412-1,811-1,555-1,302-907
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -2,547-1,664-1,377-1,212-986
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.9-10.11.3-3.9-15.7
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -0.61.915.9-9.4-17.7
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 59.047.645.846.141.5
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 35.033.635.835.833.0

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) 24.49.54.13.74.4
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 8.63.53.72.63.6

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

Member of Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Member of South African Customs Union (SACU)

Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)

Member of the African, Carribean and Pacific Agreement

Member of the Cotonou Agreement

African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) beneficiary country

Preferential market access to 34 countries for Namibian products, under the Generalised System of Preferences

Preferential trade agreement with Zimbabwe

Economic partnership agreement signed with the EU in June 2016

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2020
China 34.1%
South Africa 14.5%
Botswana 8.0%
Belgium 5.2%
Spain 4.6%
See More Countries 33.5%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2020
South Africa 36.2%
Zambia 19.1%
Democratic Republic of Congo 5.5%
China 4.5%
Bulgaria 3.8%
See More Countries 31.0%

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

 
 

Main Products

5.6 bn USD of products exported in 2020
Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic...Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic refining 23.6%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted...Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 18.6%
Uranium or thorium ores and concentratesUranium or thorium ores and concentrates 11.2%
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 7.0%
Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought ...Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought (excl. copper alloys of heading 7405) 5.9%
See More Products 33.8%
6.8 bn USD of products imported in 2020
Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic...Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic refining 17.4%
Copper ores and concentratesCopper ores and concentrates 8.4%
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 7.9%
Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought ...Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought (excl. copper alloys of heading 7405) 5.3%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted...Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 5.0%
See More Products 56.1%

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

0.2 bn USD of services exported in 2020
47.08%
16.60%
16.02%
9.04%
5.46%
3.39%
0.90%
0.88%
0.63%
0.01%
0.5 bn USD of services imported in 2020
30.83%
22.46%
15.48%
11.41%
6.66%
6.66%
2.50%
1.54%
1.42%
0.84%
0.20%

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: November 2022