Benin flag Benin: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Benin

Foreign Trade in Figures

Benin is open to foreign trade which represents 45% of its GDP (World Bank). The country is a member of various trade organizations including the World Trade Organisation 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 (53.4% of total exports), cashew nut, coconut, Brazilian nuts, shea nuts, petroleum products, cement, gold, textile products, and seafood to Bangladesh, India, China, Malaysia, Ukraine, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. Its main imports are food products (rice, meat, frozen fish), oil products, energy, drugs, vehicles and capital goods from India, China, France, Togo, Belgium, Russia and Turkey. It is also quite active in re-exportation, from Nigeria mainly.

For years now, Benin has had a structural trade deficit. In 2020, the trade deficit in goods amounted to USD 947 million (WTO). 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 2020, Benin exported goods with a total value of USD 2.3 billion while it imported goods worth USD 3.3 billion. Concerning services, Benin exported USD 410 million worth of services in 2020 and imported USD 578 million worth of services.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 2,2513,4944,3753,9323,263
Exports of Goods (million USD) 1,3542,2163,3443,0522,316
Imports of Services (million USD) 712577762803578
Exports of Services (million USD) 382323485510410

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 59.061.561.863.744.8
Trade Balance (million USD) -111-344-556-449n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -526-704-821-727n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.314.34.83.4-19.8
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 13.57.05.08.6-25.0
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 31.434.334.534.125.0
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 27.627.227.329.619.9

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 20.712.816.012.011.2
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 16.913.014.511.911.2

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)
2020
Bangladesh 38.5%
India 11.9%
China 6.6%
Malaysia 4.7%
Ukraine 4.7%
See More Countries 33.6%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2020
India 11.5%
China 11.2%
France 10.1%
Togo 8.4%
Belgium 6.3%
See More Countries 52.4%

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

 
 

Main Products

0.8 bn USD of products exported in 2020
Cotton, neither carded nor combedCotton, neither carded nor combed 53.4%
Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or...Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled 6.7%
Other oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, whether or...Other oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, whether or not broken (excl. edible nuts, olives, soya beans, ground-nuts, copra, linseed, rape or colza seeds and sunflower seeds) 5.5%
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 4.4%
Oil-cake and other solid residues, whether or not...Oil-cake 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 ground-nut oil) 3.6%
See More Products 26.3%
2.6 bn USD of products imported in 2020
RiceRice 15.0%
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 13.3%
Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish...Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 0304) 4.3%
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) 4.1%
Electrical energyElectrical energy 3.7%
See More Products 59.6%

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

 
 

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Latest Update: July 2022