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Foreign Trade in Figures

Somalia is open to foreign trade, which accounts for 96% of its GDP (World Bank, latest data available). Commerce is in the hands of local merchants, who manage their activities and transactions despite the anarchic security situation, while a large part of the population remains outside the formal commercial sector. The customs administration is still weak, and the national tariff that is currently in force is not based on the Harmonized System (HS). The factors limiting foreign trade are the poor quality of road and port infrastructure, as well as high levels of insecurity and piracy. Somalia’s exports mainly include live animals (34.8%), natural or cultured pearls, precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals, metals clad (24%), fish and crustaceans, mollusks and other aquatic invertebrates (5%) lac, gums, resins and other vegetable saps and extracts (5%). The country mainly imports tobacco (7.7%), sugars and sugar confectionery (7.7%), electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof (7.3%), cereals (5.3%), animal, vegetable or microbial fats and oils (5.1%), and edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers (4.8% - data ITC).

In 2022, Somalia mainly exported to the United Arab Emirates (39%), Oman (24.9%), Saudi Arabia (18.3%), and Bulgaria (2.6%); whereas imports came chiefly from the United Arab Emirates (32.8%), China (18.1%), India (15.8%), Turkey (6.7%), and Ethiopia (4.5% - data ITC). Somalia is part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), has endorsed the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and is in the final stages of becoming a member of the East African Community. Moreover, Somalia has entered into bilateral trade agreements with numerous nations, including Turkey, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, UAE, Qatar, South Africa, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, and China.

Somalia's trade balance is structurally in deficit. In 2022, the country exported goods valued at USD 725 million and imported USD 5.76 billion (+41% and + 12.3% y-o-y, respectively - data ITC). Concerning services, exports reached USD 625 million against USD 2 billion in imports. According to the World Bank, the trade deficit in goods and services accounted for 61.2% of GDP in 2022, compared to 50.9% one year earlier. As per the World Bank, in 2023, the revival of exports outpaced that of imports, driven by a rebound in livestock exports. However, despite this, net exports continue to impede growth due to the economy's heavy dependence on imports.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 107101102106108
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 8784858691
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 1917172017

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

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Latest Update: May 2024