A West African nation located between Ghana and Benin on Africa’s mid-western coast, Togo shipped an estimated US$1.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 119.2% increase since 2015 but a -42.8% downtick from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data from 2017 shows that 79% of products exported from Togo were bought by importers in: Burkina Faso (17.9% of the global total), Benin (14.3%), Ghana (7.6%), Niger (6.4%), India (6.1%), Mali (5.7%), Ivory Coast (5.5%), Nigeria (4.8%), United Arab Emirates (3.5%), Australia (3.2%), Pakistan (2.1%) and China (2%).
From a continental perspective, 68.6% of Togo’s exports by value were delivered to fellow African countries while 20.8% were sold to Asian importers. Togo shipped another 5.2% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Oceania led by Australia (3.2%), North America (2.2%) then Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.03%).
Given Togo’s population of 8.2 million people, its total $1.7 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $200 for every resident in the West African country.
Togo’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Togolese 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 Togo.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$817.4 million (49.4% of total exports)
- Oil seeds: $227.3 million (13.7%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $134.9 million (8.2%)
- Cotton: $57 million (3.4%)
- Iron, steel: $50.5 million (3.1%)
- Fruits, nuts: $49.4 million (3%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $47.1 million (2.8%)
- Copper: $33.4 million (2%)
- Cocoa: $30.9 million (1.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $27.6 million (1.7%)
Togo’s top 10 exports accounted for 89.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Oil seeds represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 44.1% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was cocoa via a 34.9% gain. Togo’s shipments of electrical machinery and equipment posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 28.7%.
The leading decliner among Togo’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -46.1% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, refined petroleum oils represent Togo’s most valuable exported product at 28% of the country’s total. In second place was crude oil (12.3%) trailed by oil seeds (11%), electrical energy (8.5%), natural calcium phosphates (5.5%), uncombed cotton (3.3%), cashew nuts and coconuts (2.7%), hydraulic cements (2.6%) then soya beans (also 2.6%).
The following types of Togolese 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.
- Oil seeds: US$205.8 million (Up by 100.6% since 2018)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $103.6 million (Down by -43.5%)
- Fruits, nuts: $35.8 million (Down by -52.5%)
- Copper: $32.3 million (Down by -4.3%)
- Cocoa: $27.2 million (Up by 45.1%)
- Wood: $8.1 million (Up by 49.7%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $6.2 million (Down by -22.2%)
- Ships, boats: $4.2 million (Down by -7.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $2.5 million (Reversing a -$2.2 million deficit)
- Plaiting products, basketware, wickerwork: $1.6 million (Down by -10.8%)
Togo has highly positive net exports in the international trade of oil seeds. In turn, these cashflows indicate Togo’s strong competitive advantages under that product category.
Overall Togo racked up a -$8.4 billion trade deficit for 2019, down by -4.3% from -$8.8 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Togo that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Togo’s goods trail Togolese importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US-$4.9 billion (Down by -9.6% since 2018)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$650.1 million (Up by 15.1%)
- Vehicles : -$460.2 million (Down by -18.4%)
- Cotton: -$350.3 million (Down by -14.7%)
- Cereals: -$196.1 million (Down by -5.7%)
- Machinery including computers: -$186.2 million (Up by 2.1%)
- Manmade filaments: -$156.7 million (Up by 39.6%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$144.5 million (Up by 21.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$138.3 million (Down by -8.6%)
- Manmade staple fibers: -$114.3 million (Up by 34.3%)
Togo has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels-related category, particularly for refined petroleum oils, crude oil, petroleum gas, petroleum coke and coal.
Togolese Export Companies
One Togolese corporation ranks among the largest businesses on the Forbes Global 2000, namely the regional bank Ecobank Transnational Incorporated.
Wikipedia lists companies from Togo that participate in international trade transactions. Selected examples are shown below.
- ASKY Airlines (airliner)
- Atlantic Bank Group (financial services holding group)
- La Poste du Togo (postal service)
In macroeconomic terms, Togo’s total exported goods represent 11.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($15 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 11.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 9.1% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Togo’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Togo’s unemployment rate was 1.7% in 2019, same as one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Togo’s capital city is Lomé.
See also South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports, Somalia’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: Togo. Accessed on June 21, 2020
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 21, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 21, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 21, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 21, 2020
Wikipedia, Flag of Togo. Accessed on June 21, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 21, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Togo. Accessed on June 21, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 21, 2020
Wikipedia, Togo. Accessed on June 21, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Lomé, Togo. Accessed on June 21, 2020