That dollar amount results from a 38.1% increase from $741.7 million 5 years earlier in 2017.
Year over year, the overall value of Benin’s exported products accelerated by 21.1% compared to $845.4 million for 2020.
The top 5 most valuable Beninese exports are uncarded cotton, cashews or Brazil nuts, oil seeds, processed petroleum oils, and miscellaneous oil cakes. Combined, that quintet of leading exports represent over three-quarters (76.5%) of overall goods shipped by Benin during 2021.
Benin’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 85.9% of products exported from Benin were bought by importers in: Bangladesh (41.7% of Benin’s global total), India (10%), mainland China (9.8%), Vietnam (5%), Chad (3.6%), Niger (2.9%), Egypt (2.7%), Denmark (2.3%), Ukraine (2.2%), United Arab Emirates (2.1%), Pakistan (2%) and Turkey (1.6%).
From a continental perspective, 75.3% of Benin’s exports by value was delivered to Asian countries while 16.1% was sold to importers in fellow African countries. Benin shipped another 8% worth of goods to Europe.
Tinier percentages went to North America (0.25%), and Latin America (0.34%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Given Benin’s population of 12.5 million people, its total $1.024 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $80 for every resident in the West African country. That dollar metric exceeds the average $70 per capita one year earlier during 2020.
Benin’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Beninese global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Benin.
- Cotton: US$637.3 million (62.2% of total exports)
- Fruits, nuts: $52.3 million (5.1%)
- Oil seeds: $50.8 million (5%)
- Iron, steel: $50.4 million (4.9%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $37.4 million (3.6%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $33.4 million (3.3%)
- Wood: $30.7 million (3%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $21.9 million (2.1%)
- Machinery including computers: $16.1 million (1.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: $15.3 million (1.5%)
Formerly called Dahomey, Benin’s top 10 exports accounted for 92.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.
The metals iron and steel represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 103.9% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was wood via a 45% advance.
Benin’s shipments of cotton posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 34.9%.
The leading decliner among Benin’s top 10 export categories were oil seeds, thanks to a -17% drop compared to 2020.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level Benin’s most valuable exported products in 2021 were raw cotton (61%), cashews and Brazil nuts (4.8%), oil seeds (4%), processed petroleum oils (3.6%), miscellaneous oil cakes (3.1%), bars and rods made from iron or non-alloy steel (1.8%), unwrought gold (1.5%), sawn wood (1.4%), sunflower or safflower seed and cotton-seed oils (1.2%), then woven cotton fabrics (1.1%).
Products Generating Benin’s Best Trade Surpluses
The following types of Beninese product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus during 2021. 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.
- Cotton: US$612.9 million (Up by 35.6% since 2020)
- Fruits, nuts: $51 million (Down by -12.8%)
- Oil seeds: $48.1 million (Down by -20.5%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $27.4 million (Up by 0.9%)
- Wood: $25.8 million (Up by 59.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $15.2 million (Up by 4.2%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $444,000 (Up by 1918.2%)
- Vegetable plaiting materials: $250,000 (Up by 284.6%)
Benin has highly positive net exports in the international trade of cotton. In turn, these cashflows indicate Benin’s strong competitive advantages under the related product category.
Products Causing Benin’s Worst Trade Deficits
Overall, Benin incurred a -$2.2 billion trade deficit for 2021, expanding by 19.2% from -$1.8 billion one year earlier in 2020.
Below are exports from Benin that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Benin’s goods trail Beninese importer spending on foreign products.
- Cereals: -US$663.1 million (Up by 65.3% since 2020)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$388.3 million (Down by -15.2%)
- Vehicles: -$305.8 million (Up by 43.5%)
- Machinery including computers: -$146.3 million (Up by 30.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$142.5 million (Up by 16.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$140.4 million (Up by 41%)
- Fish: -$114.1 million (Up by 3.2%)
- Meat: -$109.2 million (Up by 37.1%)
- Iron, steel: -$92 million (Up by 44.6%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$58.3 million (Up by 7.4%)
Benin has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the cereals and mineral fuels including oil product categories. The cereals deficit was mostly for rice and, to a lesser extent, wheat and corn.
Beninese Export Companies
Not surprising for a small African nation, no Beninese corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list some exports-related companies from Benin. Selected examples are shown below.
- Compagnie Béninoise de Négoce et de Distribution (personal/household goods)
- COTAIR (airliner)
- Société Beninoise de Gaz (natural gas)
- Société Nationale de Commercialisation des Produits Pétroliers (oil, gas)
In macroeconomic terms, Benin’s total exported goods represent 1.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($47.2 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 1.8% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 2% for 2020. These percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Benin’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Benin’s capital city is Porto-Novo.
See also Cotton Exports by Country, OPEC Countries Crude Oil Exports Sales Data, Rice Imports by Country, Top Almonds Exporters by Country and Capital Facts for Porto-Novo, Benin
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on September 18, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 18, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 18, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 18, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 18, 2022
Wikipedia, Benin. Accessed on September 18, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Benin. Accessed on September 18, 2022