An East African landlocked country that is also considered part of Central Africa, the Republic of Burundi shipped an estimated US$180.8 million worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -23.6% decrease since 2015 but a 0.2% gain from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 86.1% of products exported from Burundi were bought by importers in: United Arab Emirates (39% of the global total), Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), Pakistan (6.1%), Switzerland (5.7%), Germany (3.6%), Singapore (3.6%), Belgium (also 3.6%), Uganda (3.5%), Egypt (3.1%), China (3.1%), United Kingdom (2.2%) and Tanzania (1.7%).
From a continental perspective, 54.9% of Burundi’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 27.4% were sold to importers in fellow African nations. Burundi shipped another 16.3% worth of goods to Europe, while tinier percentages went to North America (1.3%) and Oceania’s New Zealand (0.1%).
Given Burundi’s population of 11.5 million people, its total $180.8 million in 2019 exports translates to roughly $20 for every resident in the central eastern African country.
Burundi’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Burundian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Burundi.
- Gems, precious metals: US$66.8 million (37% of total exports)
- Coffee, tea: $59.9 million (33.1%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $13.2 million (7.3%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $10.3 million (5.7%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $4.8 million (2.6%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $4.2 million (2.3%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $4.1 million (2.2%)
- Iron, steel: $3.5 million (1.9%)
- Vehicles: $2.7 million (1.5%)
- Machinery including computers: $2.6 million (1.5%)
Burundi’s top 10 exports accounted for 95.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Machinery including computers represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 396.4% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was iron and steel via a 290% gain. Burundi’s shipments of vehicles posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 96.1%.
The leading decliner among Burundi’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil due to its -31% decrease year over year, weighed down by falling international revenues from exports of its processed petroleum oils.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, gold represents Burundi’s most valuable exported product at 37% of the country’s total. In second place was coffee (20.9%) trailed by tea (12.2%), wheat or meslin flour (5.7%), niobium and zirconium ores or concentrates (5.6%), processed petroleum oils (2.6%), cigarettes (2.2%), iron or non-alloy steel bars and rods (1.8%), malt beer (1.7%) then tungsten ores or concentrates (1.2%).
The following types of Burundian 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 is 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$66.6 million (Up by 17.8% since 2018)
- Coffee, tea: $59.5 million (Down by -10.6%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $13.2 million (Down by -6.6%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $995,000 (Up by 132.5%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $989,000 (Down by -32.4%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $536,000 (Down by -52.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $413,000 (Down by -8.2%)
- Meat: $67,000 (Reversing a -$3 million deficit)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $22,000 (Up by 83.3%)
- Lead: $12,000 (Reversing an -$11,000 deficit)
Burundi has highly positive net exports in the international trade of gold. In turn, these cashflows indicate Burundi’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals product category.
Overall, Burundi incurred a -$706.6 million trade deficit for 2019, up 15.1% from -$613.8 in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Burundi that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Burundi’s goods trail Burundian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$160.2 million (Up by 7.3% since 2018)
- Vehicles: -$77.9 million (Up by 42.7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$62.5 million (Up by 3.2%)
- Cereals: -$52.6 million (Up by 23.8%)
- Iron, steel: -$52.2 million (Down by -0.7%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: -$51 million (Up by 104.2%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: -$39.3 million (Up by 130.9%)
- Machinery including computers: -$38.6 million (Down by -16.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$37.8 million (Down by -17.4%)
- Fertilizers: -$27.5 million (Down by -24.1%)
Burundi has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits particularly for refined petroleum oil under the mineral fuels-related product category.
Burundian Export Companies
Not one Burundian corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists businesses from Burundi that participate in international trade transactions. Selected examples are shown below.
- Air Burundi (airliner)
- Brarudi (brewery)
- FinBank Burundi (commercial bank)
- Interbank Burundi (commercial bank)
- KCB Bank Burundi Limited (commercial bank)
In macroeconomic terms, Burundi’s total exported goods represent an estimated 2.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($8.4 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 2.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 1.8% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Burundi’s total economic performance albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Burundi’s average unemployment rate was 1.5% in 2019, same as one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Burundi’s capital city is Bujumbura.
See also Uganda’s Top 10 Exports, Somalia’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on July 30, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 30, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 30, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 30, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 30, 2020
Wikipedia, Burundi. Accessed on July 30, 2020
Wikipedia, Flag of Burundi. Accessed on July 30, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Burundi. Accessed on July 30, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Bujumbura, Burundi. Accessed on July 30, 2020