Senegal’s Top 10 Exports

Senegal's flag

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The West African country Senegal shipped an estimated US$2.6 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -5.4% decrease since 2014 and a -12.9% downtick from 2017 to 2018.

The latest available country-specific data from 2017 shows that 67.7% of products exported from Senegal were bought by importers in: Mali (19.8% of the global total), Switzerland (10.1%), India (5%), Ivory Coast (4.7%), United Arab Emirates (4.5%), China (4.4%), Gambia (3.6%), Spain (3.6%), Guinea (3.5%), United States (3%), Netherlands (2.9%) and Italy (2.6%).

From a continental perspective, 46.3% of Senegal exports by value were delivered to fellow African countries while 26.8% were sold to European importers. Senegal shipped another 17.5% worth of goods to Asia. Smaller percentages went to North America (3.6%), Latin America (0.6%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.04%) mostly Australia and New Zealand.

Given Senegal’s population of 15 million people, its total $2.6 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $175 for every resident in the West African nation.

In macroeconomic terms, Senegal’s total exported goods represent 4.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($59.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 4.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 6% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Senegal’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Senegal also provided $1.4 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 2.4% of GDP in PPP.

Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Senegal’s unemployment rate was forecasted to be 10% at December 2018 down from 15.7% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

Senegal’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Senegalese global shipments during 2018 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 Senegal.

  1. Inorganic chemicals: US$526.1 million (20.2% of total exports)
  2. Gems, precious metals: $510.2 million (19.6%)
  3. Fish: $502.6 million (19.3%)
  4. Ores, slag, ash: $190.5 million (7.3%)
  5. Vegetables: $100.6 million (3.9%)
  6. Fruits, nuts: $85.6 million (3.3%)
  7. Mineral fuels including oil: $85.6 million (3.3%)
  8. Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $84.3 million (3.2%)
  9. Oil seeds: $65.8 million (2.5%)
  10. Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $53.2 million (2%)

The Republic of Senegal’s top 10 exports accounted for over four-fifths (84.7%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Inorganic chemicals represent the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 211.1% since 2017.

In second place for improving export sales was the fruits and nuts category, thanks to a 130.8% increase.

Senegal’s shipments of vegetables posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 48%.

The leading decliner among the top 10 Senegal export categories was mineral fuels including oil which fell -80.6% year over year.

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, phosphoric or polyphosphoric acids represent Senegal’s most valuable exported product at 20.2% of the country’s total. In second place was unwrought gold (19.6%) trailed by frozen whole fish (7.8%), moluscs (6%), niobium or zirconium ores and concentrates (3.7%), titanium ores and concentrates (3.4%) then processed petroleum oils (3.2%).


The following types of Senegalese 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. Fish: US$493.6 million (Up by 37.9% since 2017)
  2. Inorganic chemicals: $493.2 million (Up by 288.1%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $489.6 million (Up by 30.9%)
  4. Ores, slag, ash: $189.2 million (Up by 32.7%)
  5. Oil seeds: $50.4 million (Down by -33.5%)
  6. Meat/seafood preparations: $42.5 million (Up by 514.3%)
  7. Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $42.2 million (Down by -18.7%)
  8. Fruits, nuts: $30.9 million (Up by 252%)
  9. Lead: $13 million (Up by 102.6%)
  10. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $6.8 million (Down by -50.4%)

Senegal has highly positive net exports in the international trade of fish, inorganic chemicals and gold. In turn, these cashflows indicate Senegal’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals category.


Overall Senegal incurred a -$7.8 billion trade deficit for 2018, up by 109.4% from -$3.7 billion in red ink one year earlier.

Below are exports from Senegal that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Senegal’s goods trail Senegalese importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$2.6 billion (Up by 150.9% since 2017)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$711.9 million (Up by 47.4%)
  3. Machinery including computers: -$709.9 million (Up by 14.7%)
  4. Vehicles: -$589.4 million (Up by 34.7%)
  5. Cereals: -$586.2 million (Down by -3.7%)
  6. Articles of iron or steel: -$343.4 million (Up by 123.3%)
  7. Iron, steel: -$333.7 million (Up by 111.5%)
  8. Plastics, plastic articles: -$297.2 million (Up by 95%)
  9. Cotton: -$250.3 million (Reversing a $6 million surplus)
  10. Pharmaceuticals: -$218.6 million (Up by 7.5%)

Senegal has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits notably for petroleum oils, coal and petroleum gases under the mineral fuels-related category.


Senegalese Export Companies

Not one Senegalese corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.

Wikipedia lists export-related companies from Senegal. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Dakar–Niger Railway (industrial transportation)
  • Groupement Aérien Sénégalais (airliner)
  • Senelec (electricity)
  • Sonatel (telecommunications)


Senegal’s capital city is Dakar.

See also Top African Export Countries, Perfumes Exporters by Country and Rice Exports by Country

Research Sources:
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 22, 2018

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 10, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 22, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 22, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on July 10, 2019

Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 10, 2019

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Senegal. Accessed on August 22, 2018

Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 10, 2019

Wikipedia, Senegal. Accessed on August 22, 2018