A landlocked country bordered by Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, both Congo republics and Cameroon to its west, the Central African Republic shipped an estimated US$68.8 million worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -29% decline since 2015 but a 25.2% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data from 2018 shows that 95.4% of products exported from Central African Republic were bought by importers in: France (33% of the global total), United Arab Emirates (16.4%), Cameroon (13.1%), China (12.7%), Niger (4.5%), Vietnam (4.2%), Morocco (3.5%), Germany (3.2%), Belgium (1.5%), Switzerland (1.4%), Austria (0.9%) and Israel (also 0.9%).
From a continental perspective and based on 2018 data, 41.3% of Central African Republic exports by value were delivered to Europe countries while 36% were sold to Asian importers. Central African Republic shipped another 22.5% worth of goods to fellow African nations. A much smaller percentage went to Latin America including the Caribbean (0.2%).
Given Central African Republic’s population of 5.2 million people, its total $68.8 million in 2019 exports translates to roughly $15 for every resident in the African country.
Central African Republic’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorizes the highest dollar value in Central African global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Central African Republic.
- Wood: US$54 million (78.5% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $5.9 million (8.6%)
- Ships, boats: $2 million (2.9%)
- Cocoa: $1.6 million (2.3%)
- Cotton: $1.4 million (2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $647,000 (0.9%)
- Machinery including computers: $503,000 (0.7%)
- Coffee, spices: $378,000 (0.5%)
- Vehicles: $324,000 (0.5%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $265,000 (0.4%)
Central African Republic’s top 10 exports accounted for 97.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Cocoa represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 155,800% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was coffee and spices via a 432.4% increase. Central African Republic’s shipments of wood posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 260.8%.
The leading decliner among Central African Republic’s top 10 export categories was vehicles thanks to its -97.6% drop year over year.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Central African Republic’s most valuable exported product in 2019 was rough wood (60.5% of its global total). In second place was sawn wood (17.3%) trailed by gold (4.8%), warships including lifeboats (2.9%), raw diamonds (also 2.9%), cocoa paste (2.1%) then uncombed cotton (2%).
The following types of Central African 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.
- Wood: US$53.6 million (Up by 399% since 2018)
- Gems, precious metals: $5.9 million (Down by -43.6%)
- Ships, boats: $2 million (Reversing a -$239,000 deficit)
- Cotton: $1.4 million (Up by 37.2%)
- Cocoa: $1.2 million (Down by -217%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $184,000 (No 2018 data)
- Oil seeds: $21,000 (Reversing a -$112,000 deficit)
- Special woven/tufted fabric, embroidery: $8,000 (Reversing a -$1,000 deficit)
- Manmade filaments: $2,000 (Down by -98%)
Central African Republic highly positive net exports in the international trade of lumber. In turn, these cashflows indicate Central African Republic’s strong competitive advantages under the wood category.
Overall, Central African Republic incurred a -$183.5 million product trade deficit for 2019 decreasing by -44.3% from the -$329.5 million in red ink during 2018.
Below are exports from Central African Republic that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Central African Republic’s goods trail Central African importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$40.8 million (Up by 82.5% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$31.8 million (Up by 50.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$31.1 million (Up by 66%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$22.4 million (Down by 0%)
- Vehicles: -$14.9 million (Down by -84.6%)
- Meat: -$8.1 million (Down by -9%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: -$7.2 million (Up by 49%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$6.4 million (Up by 9.7%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: -$6.3 million (Down by -61.2%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: -$6.3 million (Up by 54%)
Central African Republic has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels-related category. This is mainly due to red ink for refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases.
Central African Export Companies
Not one Central African corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list international trade-related companies from Central African Republic. Selected examples are shown below.
- Banque Internationale pour la Centrafrique (commercial bank)
- Enerca (electrical infrastructure)
- Groupe Kamach (timber, mines, real estate)
- Socatel (telecommunications)
In macroeconomic terms, Central African Republic’s total exported goods represent 1.6% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($4.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 1.6% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 4.8% for 2019. Those metrics suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Central African Republic’s total economic performance albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Central African Republic’s average unemployment rate was 6.5% for 2019 same as one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Central African Republic’s capital city is Bangui.
See also Uganda’s Top 10 Exports, Somalia’s Top 10 Exports and Burundi’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: Central African Republic. Accessed on June 19, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 19, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 19, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 19, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 19, 2020
Wikipedia, Central African Republic. Accessed on June 19, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Central African Republic. Accessed on June 19, 2020
Wikipedia, Flag of Central African Republic. Accessed on June 19, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Bangui, Central African Republic. Accessed on June 19, 2020