flag Sudan Sudan: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Since the partition of the country, the share of foreign trade in Sudan’s GDP dropped dramatically. From around 44% GDP in 2009, foreign trade decreased to account for less than 1% GDP in 2020 (World Bank). Sudan’s customs duties are relatively high, and non-tariff barriers impose additional severe impediments on trade flows (The Heritage Foundation). Political uncertainty, tensions in Darfur and with Chad, as well as poor coordination among government agencies are limiting the development of foreign trade. The peace agreement signed in September 2018 to end the civil war in South Sudan led Sudan and South Sudan to open four border crossings, which is expected to increase commercial traffic. Sudan mainly exports gold (45.51% of total exports), oils seeds (27.72%), fuels (8.27%), live animals (4.28%) and cotton (3%) (ITC, 2020). It mainly imports machinery (9.51% of total imports), vehicles (9.31%), cereals (7.18%), sugar (6.99%), electrical appliances (6.79%), plastics (5.33%) and medicines (4.11%) (ITC, 2020).

Sudan’s main export partners are the UAE (27.5% of total exports), China (20.3%), Saudi Arabia (16.3%), Egypt (16%) and India (2.7%). Its main suppliers are China (17.4% of total imports), Russia (15.1%), Saudi Arabia (10.2%), India (8.3%), UAE (7.5%), Japan (5.2%) and Egypt (4.4%) (ITC, 2018).

Sudan's trade balance has been in deficit since 2012, with South Sudan now benefiting from oil revenues. However, an agreement signed in 2013 allocates part of this income to the transit countries, namely Sudan, which owns the oil transport infrastructure. Despite the depreciation of the Sudanese pound, imports will remain significant, as they are made up of basic necessities. Exports will suffer from the drop in oil prices and production. An important diversification policy has been implemented with the development of gold and ethanol and the strengthening of exports in its traditional sectors. In 2020, Sudan exported USD 3.8 billion in goods, and imported USD 9.8 billion. Exports of services amounted to USD 1.23 billion while imports reached USD 1.20 billion (WTO). Imports of goods and services decreased by 2%, while exports decreased by 9% (World Bank, 2020). According to the World Bank, the trade deficit amounted to USD 4.6 billion in 2019, up from USD 3.6 billion in 2018. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, global trade volumes decreased sharply. Sudan's imports of foodstuff and capital goods declined due to the drop in domestic demand, while reduced demand among Sudan’s major trading partners in the Persian Gulf lowered exports (AfDB). In 2022, trade deficit is expected to decrease due to higher commodity prices (oil, gold and agricultural products) and despite increased imports linked to stronger domestic demand (Coface).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 8,6569,1347,8509,2919,838
Exports of Goods (million USD) 2,3684,1003,4783,7353,803
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,5231,3261,0631,3011,198
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,5851,7541,4861,3521,226
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2102-1-9
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -31163-2
Trade Balance (million USD) -4,386-4,120-3,580-4,620n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 1619222610
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 111214185
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 56885

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows


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List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs duties


Trade Compliance

International Economic Cooperation
Member of COMESA - Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. The country is also part of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area(GAFTA), a pact of the Arab League entered into force in January 2005 which aims to form an Arabic free trade area.
Useful Resources
Sudan Customs
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
The Intellectual Property Department, Ministry of Justice website.

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Latest Update: September 2022