Tanzania flag Tanzania: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Tanzania

Foreign Trade in Figures

Tanzania is relatively open to foreign trade, with trade accounting for 35% of its GDP according to the World Bank's latest data available. The country's trade policy aims to create competitive local industries and diversify its export sector to stimulate economic growth. Tanzania is a member of several regional and international trade agreements, including the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The country has also implemented measures to facilitate international trade, including the single window system for trade documentation and the establishment of trade facilitation committees. In 2022, gold was the leading export item, constituting 41.5% of the total, followed by coconuts (3.4%), copper ores (2.8%), and vegetables (2.7%). On the import side, petroleum oils (23.3%), tractors (2.5%), and medicaments (2.3%) were among the top imports, as per Comtrade data.

According to Comtrade data, China (25.2%), the United Arab Emirates (15.9%), India (12.5%), Saudi Arabia (3.9%), and South Africa (3.5%) were Tanzania's main suppliers in 2022. In the same year, India (17.3%), South Africa (13.6%), the United Arab Emirates (11.2%), Kenya (5.6%), and Switzerland (5.3%) were the primary export destinations. Tanzania maintains low customs duties (with a trade-weighted tariff rate of 8.9%) and few trade restrictions, making it accessible for international trade. However, trade barriers, mainly logistical and non-tariff in nature, persist. For instance, congestion at the Dar es Salaam port, the main entry and exit point for merchandise, presents a significant challenge due to inadequate infrastructural investments. Poorly maintained roads and railways further hinder trade, despite government initiatives to improve infrastructure. Challenges also exist in obtaining construction permits, registering land, and tax payments.

Tanzania faces a chronic trade deficit due to a capital-intensive growth model that relies heavily on oil and capital goods imports. In 2022, merchandise exports amounted to USD 6.8 billion, while imports reached USD 14.2 billion, resulting in a trade deficit. Service exports reached USD 4.7 billion, with imports at USD 2.4 billion. The World Bank estimated the country's trade deficit at 4.2% of GDP in 2022. Data from the Bank of Tanzania indicate a 16.6% increase in the export of goods and services to USD 13,976 million in 2023, driven primarily by tourism receipts, gold, and traditional exports. Non-traditional goods exports grew by 4.3% to USD 6,320.4 million, with significant growth in gold exports. Service receipts increased due to growth in travel and transport receipts. Imports of goods and services decreased in 2023, mainly attributed to a decline in the import bill for white petroleum products.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 9,4528,43910,02414,21913,817
Exports of Goods (million USD) 5,0056,0616,3916,8257,292
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,7821,3191,6072,4652,333
Exports of Services (million USD) 4,2812,1843,1184,7626,268

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 32.633.028.029.935.0
Trade Balance (million USD) -4,190-3,415-1,517n/an/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -2,092-917-626n/an/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 23.3-1.4-7.69.623.7
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -5.819.0-8.65.210.2
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 17.917.014.515.819.6
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 14.716.013.514.115.4

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) 5.55.47.38.39.1
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 10.51.42.96.37.3

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Member of the WTO - World Trade Organization

Member of EAC - East African Community

Member of SADC - Southern African Development Community

African Growth and Opportunity Act beneficiary country

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2023
India 21.4%
South Africa 15.4%
United Arab Emirates 9.4%
Switzerland 6.4%
China 5.9%
See More Countries 41.5%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2023
China 27.5%
India 12.9%
United Arab Emirates 9.4%
Saudi Arabia 6.1%
Japan 4.3%
See More Countries 39.8%

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

 
 

Main Products

6.8 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 41.5%
Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or...Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled 3.4%
Copper ores and concentratesCopper ores and concentrates 2.8%
Dried leguminous vegetables, shelled, whether or...Dried leguminous vegetables, shelled, whether or not skinned or split 2.7%
RiceRice 2.7%
See More Products 46.8%
15.7 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 23.3%
Tractors (other than tractors of heading 8709)Tractors (other than tractors of heading 8709) 2.5%
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) 2.3%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and immunological products, whether or not modified or obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 2.3%
Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel,...Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, of a width >= 600 mm, hot-rolled, not clad, plated or coated 2.1%
See More Products 67.4%

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

 
 

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Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2024. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: May 2024