Togo’s Top 10 Exports

Togo flag courtesy of Wikipedia

Togo flag (Wikipedia)

A West African nation located between Ghana and Benin on Africa’s mid-western coast, Togo shipped an estimated US$1.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 58.7% advance since 2014 and a 70.2% increase from 2017 to 2018.

The latest available country-specific data for 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 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 $1.3 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $160 for every resident in the West African country.

In macroeconomic terms, Togo’s total exported goods represent 9.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($14 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 9.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 11.9% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Togo’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Togo also provided $586.7 million worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 4.2% of GDP in PPP.

Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Togo’s unemployment rate was forecasted to be 1.7% in 2019 down from 1.8% two years earlier, according to Trading Economics.

Togo’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Togolese 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 Togo.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$362.3 million (28.4% of total exports)
  2. Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $192.1 million (15.1%)
  3. Oil seeds: $157.2 million (12.3%)
  4. Gems, precious metals: $111.9 million (8.8%)
  5. Iron, steel: $67.6 million (5.3%)
  6. Fruits, nuts: $60.2 million (4.7%)
  7. Cotton: $43.5 million (3.4%)
  8. Copper: $35 million (2.7%)
  9. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $28.2 million (2.2%)
  10. Cocoa: $22.7 million (1.8%)

Togo’s top 10 exports accounted for 84.7% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Copper was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 437,075% since 2017.

In second place for improving export sales was mineral fuels including oil via a 2,455% increase, propelled by greater international sales of both refined and crude petroleum oils.

Togo’s shipments of oil seeds posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 1,125%.

The leading decliner among the top 10 Togo export categories was cotton which fell -41.3%

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, refined petroleum oils represent Togo’s most valuable exported product at 17.1% of the country’s total. In second place was crude oil (11.1%) trailed by oil seeds (10.5%), unwrought gold (8.5%), hydraulic cements (7.5%), natural calcium phosphates (7.2%), iron or steel scrap (4.4%), cashew nuts and coconuts (4.3%), uncombed cotton (3.3%) then copper waste and scrap (2.7%).


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.

  1. Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: US$148.4 million (Up by 11.9% since 2017)
  2. Gems, precious metals: $111 million (Up by 216.3%)
  3. Oil seeds: $102.3 million (Up by 1370.6%)
  4. Fruits, nuts: $47.6 million (Up by 873.1%)
  5. Copper: $34.2 million (Reversing a -$390,000 deficit)
  6. Cocoa: $18.7 million (Up by 445.5%)
  7. Ships, boats: $16.8 million (Up by 2074.9%)
  8. Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $7.9 million (Down by -64%)
  9. Wood: $5.7 million (Reversing a -$655,000 deficit)
  10. Lead: $1.2 million (Reversing a -$143,000 deficit)

Togo has highly positive net exports in the international trade of salt, sulphur, stone and cement. In turn, these cashflows indicate Togo’s strong competitive advantages under that product category.


Overall Togo racked up a -$10 billion trade deficit for 2018, up by 1,055% from -$865.7 million 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.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$6.5 billion (Up by 2,660% since 2017)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$509.1 million (Up by 568.5%)
  3. Vehicles: -$471.4 million (Up by 316%)
  4. Cotton: -$422.4 million (Reversing a $37.5 million surplus)
  5. Cereals: -$195.2 million (Up by 303.3%)
  6. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$186.7 million (Up by 1,254%)
  7. Machinery including computers: -$177.3 million (Up by 175.5%)
  8. Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$126 million (Up by 381.7%)
  9. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$117.8 million (Up by 2,311%)
  10. Manmade filaments: -$111.8 million (Up by 280%)

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)


Togo’s capital city is Lomé.

See also South Sudan’s Top 10 Exports, Somalia’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries

Research Sources:
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 11, 2018

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 11, 2019

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 11, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 11, 2018

The World Factbook, Africa: Togo. Accessed on July 11, 2019

Wikipedia, Flag of Togo. Accessed on September 11, 2018

Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 11, 2019

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Togo. Accessed on September 11, 2018

Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 11, 2019

Wikipedia, Togo. Accessed on September 11, 2018

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Lomé, Togo. Accessed on September 11, 2018