A landlocked country in northwest Africa, Burkina Faso shipped and estimated US$3.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 47% increase since 2015 but a -0.7% decrease from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the West African CFA franc appreciated by 0.9% against the US dollar since 2015 but declined by -5.5% from 2018 to 2019. Burkina Faso’s weaker local currency since 2018 makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers during 2019.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 95.3% of products exported from Burkina Faso were bought by importers in: Switzerland (54.8% of the global total), India (17.7%), Singapore (6.5%), Ivory Coast (5.5%), France (3.2%), Ghana (2.7%), Denmark (1%), Niger (0.9%), Togo (0.8%), Vietnam (also 0.8%), Mali (0.7%) and the United Kingdom (0.6%).
From a continental perspective, 61.2% of Burkina Faso’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 26.3% were sold to importers in Asia. Burkina Faso shipped another 11.7% worth of goods to fellow African nations. Smaller percentages went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.5%), North America (0.3%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.01%).
Given Burkina Faso’s population of 20.3 million people, its total $3.3 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $160 for every resident in that country.
Burkina Faso’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Burkinabe global shipments during 2019, at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Burkina Faso.
- Gems, precious metals: US$2.3 billion (69.6% of total exports)
- Cotton: $357.8 million (11%)
- Zinc: $155.3 million (4.8%)
- Oil seeds: $141.8 million (4.3%)
- Fruits, nuts: $119.7 million (3.7%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $35.3 million (1.1%)
- Machinery including computers: $35.1 million (1.1%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $29.6 million (0.9%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $19.9 million (0.6%)
- Vehicles: $14.2 million (0.4%)
Burkina Faso’s top 10 exports are highly concentrated, accounting for 97.4% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Aircraft and spacecraft was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 551.1% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes via a 40.4% gain. Burkina Faso’s shipments of vehicles posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 40.3%.
The leading decliner among Burkina Faso’s top 10 export categories was fruits and nuts thanks to a -50.4% drop year over year.
Drilling down to 4-digit HTS codes, Burkina Faso’s most valuable exported goods include gold (69.5% of its global total), uncarded cotton (10.9%), zinc (4.8%), oil seeds (4.2%), cashew nuts and coconuts (2.9%) then fixed vegetable fats and oils (1%).
The following types of Burkinabe product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Gems, precious metals: US$2.3 billion (Up by 5.7% since 2018)
- Cotton: $355.5 million (Up by 7.6%)
- Zinc: $155.3 million (Down by -17.3%)
- Oil seeds: $134 million (Down by -18%)
- Fruits, nuts: $116.9 million (Down by -51%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $10 million (Down by -181.3%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $4.6 million (Down by -51.3%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $2.1 million (Up by 1.3%)
- Live animals: $395,000 (Down by -74.4%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $385,000 (Down by -45.7%)
Burkina Faso has highly positive net exports in the international trade of gold. In turn, these cashflows indicate Burkina Faso’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals category.
Overall Burkina Faso incurred a -$989.9 million trade deficit for 2019, down from -$1 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Burkina Faso that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Burkina Faso’s goods trail Burkinabe importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$1.2 billion (Up by 3.5% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$478.9 million (Up by 9.5%)
- Vehicles: -$345.3 million (Down by -0.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$273.7 million (Down by -3.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$215.4 million (Down by -11.1%)
- Cereals: -$150 million (Down by -19.8%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$145.5 million (Down by -0.3%)
- Iron, steel: -$144.7 million (Down by -3.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$97 million (Down by -9.5%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: -$96.3 million (Down by -37%)
Burkina Faso has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits related to the mineral fuels including oil category. That category was weighed down by red ink for refined petroleum oils, electricity, petroleum gas then petroleum coke.
Burkinabe Export Companies
Not one Burkinabe corporation ranks on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
Wikipedia lists companies located in Burkina Faso. Selected examples are shown below.
- Air Burkina (airliner)
- Faso Airways (airliner)
- Tovio (sportswear, equipment)
In macroeconomic terms, Burkina Faso’s total exported goods represent 7.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($42.2 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 7.7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 8.5% for 2018. This suggests a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Burkina Faso’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Burkina Faso’s unemployment rate was an estimated 6.1% for 2019 according to Trading Economics.
Burkina Faso’s capital city is Ouagadougou.
See also Report Card for Trade Surpluses and Deficits by Country, Top Cork Exporting Countries and Capital Facts for Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: Burkina Faso. Accessed on March 29, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 29, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 29, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 29, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 29, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 29, 2020
Wikipedia, Burkina Faso. Accessed on March 29, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 29, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Burkina Faso. Accessed on March 29, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 29, 2020