Zambia shipped US$9.1 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That dollar figure translates into a tiny 0.05% sliver of overall global exports estimated at $17.546 trillion one year earlier.
Assuming a continental lens, $4.3 billion or 47.2% of Zambian exports by value were delivered to European countries while 29% were sold to Asian importers. Zambia shipped another 19.9% worth of goods to fellow African nations.
At just 0.1%, a tinier portion of Zambian exported goods were bought by customers in North America.
Zambia’s Top 15 Trading Partners
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 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Zambian exports.
- Switzerland: US$3.8 billion (41.9% of total Zambian exports)
- China: $1.3 billion (14.7%)
- Democratic Rep. Congo: $857.2 million (9.4%)
- Singapore: $701 million (7.7%)
- South Africa: $439.8 million (4.8%)
- United Kingdom: $353.5 million (3.9%)
- United Arab Emirates: $237 million (2.6%)
- India: $186.2 million (2.1%)
- Hong Kong: $142.5 million (1.6%)
- Zimbabwe: $137.4 million (1.5%)
- Malawi: $84.8 million (0.9%)
- Tanzania: $84.3 million (0.9%)
- Luxembourg: $76.7 million (0.8%)
- Kenya: $60.2 million (0.7%)
- Namibia: $31 million (0.3%)
At 94.1%, a high concentration of Zambian exports in 2018 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
The United Kingdom increased its import purchases from Zambia by the highest percentage from 2017 to 2018, thanks to a 92% improvement. In second place was the Democratic Republic of the Congo (up 61.5%) trailed by Namibia (up 48.2%), Luxembourg (up 47.1%) then Singapore (up 41.6%).
The United Arab Emirates decreased its Zambian import purchases at the fastest pace, down -19.2% year over year. The second-greatest reduction was -16.8% for Kenya, then the -14.8% cutback by Malawi.
Zambia incurred an overall -$404.3 million trade deficit during 2018, a -30.8% reduction from the -$584.3 million deficit for 2017.
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:
- South Africa: -US$2.3 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- Democratic Rep. Congo: -$538.9 million
- Kuwait: -$441.3 million
- United Arab Emirates: -$359.5 million
- India: -$257.1 million
- Mauritius: -$204.1 million
- United States: -$182.6 million
- Japan: -$143.3 million
- Mozambique: -$123.5 million
- Tanzania: -$96.8 million
Among Zambia’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Zambian deficits with India (up 268.8%), United Arab Emirates (up 178.8%) and United States (up 75%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
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.
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:
- Switzerland: US$3.8 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- Singapore: $667.8 million
- United Kingdom: $167.7 million
- Luxembourg: $74.1 million
- Malawi: $71.5 million
- Hong Kong: $69 million
- Zimbabwe: $63.1 million
- China: $45 million
- Burundi: $20.3 million
- Rwanda: $19.4 million
Among Zambia’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Zambian surpluses with the United Kingdom (up 294.1%), Luxembourg (up 51.3%) and Singapore (up 43.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
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 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)
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 3, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 3, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 3, 2019
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 3, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 3, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Zambia. Accessed on March 3, 2019
Wikipedia, Zambia. Accessed on March 3, 2019