Burkina Faso’s Top 10 Exports

Burkina Faso flag

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A landlocked country in northwest Africa, Burkina Faso shipped and estimated US$2.4 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a 0.2% increase since 2013 but a -5.5% drop from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Burkina Faso’s exported goods plus services represent 20.9% of total Burkinabe economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective and based on 2016 data, about two-thirds (67.2%) of Burkinabe exports by value were delivered to European countries while 18.3% were sold to Asian importers. Burkina Faso shipped another 13.6% worth of goods to Africa with just 0.8% going to North America.

Given Burkina Faso’s population of 20.1 million people, its total $2.4 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $120 for every resident in that country.

Burkina Faso’s unemployment rate was 6.3% in 2017, according to Trading Economics.

Burkina Faso’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Burkinabe global shipments during 2017, 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.

Drilling down to 4-digit HTS codes, Burkina Faso’s most valuable exported goods are gold ($1.9 billion), uncarded cotton ($196.9 million), cashew nuts and coconuts ($54.9 million) and oil seeds ($52.7 million).

  1. Gems, precious metals: US$1.9 billion (78.5% of total exports)
  2. Cotton: $198.7 million (8.3%)
  3. Ores, slag, ash: $137.6 million (5.8%)
  4. Fruits, nuts: $76.6 million (3.2%)
  5. Oil seeds: $59.5 million (2.5%)
  6. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $19.5 million (0.8%)
  7. Vegetables: $4.0 million (0.2%)
  8. Fertilizers: $1.8 million (0.1%)
  9. Machinery including computers: $905,000 (0.04%)
  10. Toys, games: $902,000 (0.04%)

Burkina Faso’s top 10 exports are highly concentrated, accounting for 99.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Ores, slag and ash was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories via a 159,866% gain from 2016 to 2017, propelled by higher international sales of zinc ores and concentrates.

In second place for improving export sales was the toys and games category via a 29,967% uptick.

Animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 24.7%.

The greatest decline among the top 10 Burkinabe exports was -96.7% year over year for the machinery including computers.


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.

  1. Gems, precious metals: US$1.9 billion (Up by 20.4% since 2016)
  2. Cotton: $196.3 million (Down by -53.3%)
  3. Ores, slag, ash: $137.5 million (Reversing a -$44,000 deficit)
  4. Fruits, nuts: $74.8 million (Down by -40.9%)
  5. Oil seeds: $54.2 million (Down by -63.8%)
  6. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $8.1 million (Reversing a -$27.6 million deficit)
  7. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $396,000 (Down by -82.6%)
  8. Collector items, art, antiques: $349,000 (Down by -6.7%)
  9. Vegetable plaiting materials: $238,000 (Up by 2875.0%)
  10. Vegetables: $190,000 (Down by -93.3%)

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 $563.3 million trade surplus for 2017, reversing a -$822.7 million deficit 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.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$331.2 million (Down by -14.2% since 2016)
  2. Vehicles: -$206.3 million (Down by -11.5%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$205.6 million (Up by 3.3%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: -$124.8 million (Down by -40.7%)
  5. Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: -$76.3 million (Down by -42.3%)
  6. Cereals: -$67.4 million (Down by -52.6%)
  7. Miscellaneous food preparations: -$52.9 million (Up by 9.2%)
  8. Plastics, plastic articles: -$52.5 million (Down by -20.2%)
  9. Articles of iron or steel: -$51.7 million (Down by -52.3%)
  10. Mineral fuels including oil: -$40.3 million (Down by -93.9%)

Burkina Faso has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category. That category also encompasses heavy machinery such as bulldozers and excavators.


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)

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

Research Sources:
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 23, 2018

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 23, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 23, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 23, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 23, 2018

Wikipedia, Burkina Faso. Accessed on August 23, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Burkina Faso. Accessed on August 23, 2018