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Foreign Trade in Figures

Djibouti’s economy is very open to external trade, which represents 223% GDP (World Bank, 2020). Djibouti has a free trade regime and a free-trade zone status in Eastern Africa. It is a member of the WTO, the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development), the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), the Arab League and the African Union, has signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and a number of bilateral agreements. Djibouti has shown great interest in fostering regional economic integration, particularly with Ethiopia. Djibouti mainly exports or re-exports animal fats (48% of total exports), chlorides (15%), cattle, machinery, food and other commodities. The country mainly imports animal fats (10% of total imports), vehicles (8%), petroleum products (7%), plastics, fertilizers, iron, machinery, food, and other capital goods (International Trade Centre, 2021).

Djibouti’s main customers are Ethiopia (25.1% of total exports), China (21.8%), the United States (19.3%), India (8.2%) and Saudi Arabia (7.6%). The country's main suppliers are China (42.5% of total imports), the United Arab Emirates (13.9%), India (6.2%), Turkey (5.9%) and Morocco (4.6%) (International Trade Centre, 2020). The economies of Ethiopia and Djibouti are highly interdependent via the Port of Djibouti, which traditionally constituted the only maritime outsource for the landlocked territory of Ethiopia. The recent peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, with the resulting opportunity for Ethiopia to use Eritrea’s ports, may change this situation. Djibouti's heavy debt burden could harm trade relations with China, its main creditor (Coface).

Djibouti’s trade balance is structurally negative, as it does not export much except cattle and imports large amounts of petroleum products, food and capital goods. However, the country has a surplus in terms of exports in the service sector, largely due to port services fees for re-import and re-exports. The trade deficit was estimated at USD 723 million in 2021 (World Bank). In 2021, exports of goods amounted to USD 3.28 billion whereas imports reached USD 4.01 billion (WTO). As economic activity recovered from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, imports of goods and services needed for infrastructure projects increased significantly (Coface). In 2022, the trade deficit widened due to the rising cost of oil and foodstuffs. It is expected to narrow in 2023 provided that commodity prices continue to decline and that improved external conditions favour services exports (Coface).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 3,6034,1382,9114,8705,405
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,5223,9962,7854,1474,497
Imports of Services (million USD) 586626514613632
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,0411,1549101,0131,115
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -310-30n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 109-30n/an/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -81-142-127-723n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 300321223n/an/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 144154107n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 157167116n/an/a

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


Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
International Economic Cooperation
Member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA);
Member of African Union;
Member of Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD;
Member of Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Party of the TIR Convention

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Useful Resources
Djibouti Customs
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
The Djibouti Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (ODPIC), Ministry of Trade and Industry

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Latest Update: December 2023