Benin flag Benin: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Benin

Foreign Trade in Figures

Benin is open to foreign trade, which represents 51% of its GDP (World Bank). The country is a member of various trade organizations, including the World Trade Organization 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 (64.8% of total exports in 2022), oil seeds, petroleum oils, and coconuts, whereas imports are led by rice (18.2%), petroleum oils (15%), medicaments, and fertilizers (data Comtrade).

The country’s main export partners are Bangladesh (45.3%), India (11.9%), China (6.1%), Egypt (4.5%), and Pakistan (4.2%), while imports come chiefly from India (15.7%), China (13.1%), France (8.1%), the United Arab Emirates (6.7%), and Nigeria (5.1% - data Comtrade 2022).

For years now, Benin has had a structural trade deficit. In 2022, the trade deficit stood at 7.6% of GDP (World Bank). 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 2022, Benin exported goods with a total value of USD 3.54 billion while it imported goods worth USD 4.78 billion. Concerning services, Benin exported USD 540 million and imported USD 982 million (WTO). According to the national statistics bureau, during the third quarter of 2023, Benin's goods exports decreased by 9.6% compared to the previous quarter, while goods imports dropped by 20.8% during the same period.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 3,9323,5554,3704,7844,234
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,0522,9963,6423,5684,071
Imports of Services (million USD) 806790931982n/a
Exports of Services (million USD) 528510512540n/a

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 61.863.744.848.150.9
Trade Balance (million USD) -556-444-156-352n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -821-722-436-772n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.83.4-19.816.818.5
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 5.08.6-25.012.619.1
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 34.534.125.027.129.3
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 27.329.619.920.921.7

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) 18.814.29.99.19.0
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 17.313.28.49.39.1

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)
2023
Bangladesh 37.2%
India 15.4%
Pakistan 7.2%
Togo 5.4%
China 5.3%
See More Countries 29.5%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2023
India 17.1%
China 12.8%
France 8.6%
United States 5.2%
Nigeria 5.2%
See More Countries 51.1%

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

 
 

Main Products

0.9 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Cotton, neither carded nor combedCotton, neither carded nor combed 64.6%
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) 4.8%
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 4.3%
Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or...Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled 3.7%
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) 3.2%
See More Products 19.5%
3.9 bn USD of products imported in 2022
RiceRice 17.4%
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 14.3%
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) 3.2%
Mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or...Mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or three of the fertilising elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; other fertilisers (excl. pure animal or vegetable fertilisers or mineral or chemical nitrogenous, phosphatic or potassic fertilisers); animal, vegetable, mineral or chemical fertilisers in tablets or similar forms or in packages of a gross weight of <= 10 kg 3.0%
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 2.9%
See More Products 59.3%

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, 2024. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: April 2024