Zambia’s Top Trading Partners

Zambia's Top Trading Partners

Giraffe in Zambian sunset

Zambia shipped US$8.1 billion worth of products around the globe in 2017. That dollar figure translates into a tiny 0.05% sliver of overall global exports estimated at $16.236 trillion one year earlier during 2016.

From a continental perspective, $3.9 billion or 47.9% of Zambia’s total exports by value in 2017 were delivered to European trade partners. Asian importers purchased 30.5% of Zambian shipments while 18.8% worth of products arrived in African countries.

At just 0.1%, a tinier portion of Zambian exported goods were bought by customers in North America.

Zambia’s Top 15 Trading Partners

Top 15

Below is a list showcasing 15 of Zambia’s top trading partners in terms of export sales. That is, countries that imported the most Zambian shipments by dollar value during 2017. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Zambian exports.

  1. Switzerland: US$3.6 billion (44.6% of total Zambian exports)
  2. China: $1.3 billion (16.3%)
  3. Democratic Rep. Congo: $530.6 million (6.5%)
  4. Singapore: $494.9 million (6.1%)
  5. South Africa: $452.4 million (5.6%)
  6. United Arab Emirates: $293.2 million (3.6%)
  7. United Kingdom: $184.1 million (2.3%)
  8. India: $176 million (2.2%)
  9. Hong Kong: $145.3 million (1.8%)
  10. Zimbabwe: $133.7 million (1.6%)
  11. Malawi: $99.6 million (1.2%)
  12. Tanzania: $89.1 million (1.1%)
  13. Kenya: $72.3 million (0.9%)
  14. Luxembourg: $52.1 million (0.6%)
  15. Rwanda: $33.6 million (0.4%)

A high concentration (94.9%) of Zambian exports in 2017 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.

Rwanda increased its import purchases from Zambia by the highest percentage from 2013 to 2017 with a 699.5% improvement. In second place was Hong Kong (up 621.4%) followed by Singapore (up 607.2%) and India (up 36.4%).

South Africa decreased its Zambian import purchases at the fastest pace down -60.2% over the 5-year period. The second-greatest reduction was -55.3% for the Democratic Republic of Congo, then -54.5% for Malawi and -51.5% for Zimbabwe (formerly called Zimbabwe).

Deficits

Zambia incurred an overall -$584.3 million trade deficit during 2017, reversing a $432.2 million surplus in 2013.

As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.

It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.

Zambia incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:

  1. South Africa: -US$2 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2017)
  2. Democratic Rep. Congo: -$1.3 billion
  3. Kuwait: -$466.5 million
  4. Mauritius: -$215.6 million
  5. Mozambique: -$159.1 million
  6. United Arab Emirates: -$129 million
  7. Namibia: -$104.5 million
  8. United States: -$104.3 million
  9. Japan: -$95.8 million
  10. Tanzania: -$75.7 million

Among Zambia’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances in 2017, three resulted in per-country red ink that increased from 2013 to 2017: Kuwait (up 114.7%), Democratic Republic of Congo (up 92.6%) and South Africa (up 2.9%).

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Zambia’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Zambia to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.

Surpluses

Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.

Zambia earned the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:

  1. Switzerland: US$3.6 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2017)
  2. Singapore: $466.4 million
  3. China: $208.3 million
  4. Hong Kong: $96.1 million
  5. Malawi: $84.6 million
  6. Zimbabwe: $59.4 million
  7. Luxembourg: $49 million
  8. United Kingdom: $42.6 million
  9. Kenya: $36.8 million
  10. Rwanda: $33.6 million

Among Zambia’s top trading partners year over year, only the African country sharing its southeast border–Zimbabwe–was responsible for a boost in Zambia’s black ink from exchanging exports and imports over the 5-year period dating back to 2013.

These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Zambia’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Zambia to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.

Companies

Companies Servicing Zambian Trading Partners

Not one Zambian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.

Wikipedia lists exporters from Zambia including companies engaged in international trade. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Chilanga Cement (cement, cement clinker)
  • Konkola Copper Mines (copper mining, smelter)
  • Zambeef Products (beef, milk, eggs)
  • Zambezi Airlines (airliner)
  • Zambian Breweries Plc (lagers, bottling)
  • ZCCM Investments Holdings (copper-mining conglomerate)


 
See also Zambia’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries

Research Sources:
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 20, 2017

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 11, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 20, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 11, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on October 20, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Zambia. Accessed on October 20, 2017

Wikipedia, Zambia. Accessed on February 11, 2018