That estimated dollar amount reflects a 25.3% expansion from $6.6 billion five years earlier during 2018.
Year over year, the overall value of Botswanan exports increased by 11.5% compared to $7.42 billion for 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the Botswana pula depreciated by -21.3% against the US dollar since 2018 and declined up by -11.6% from 2021 to 2022. Botswana’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Botswana’s 3 most valuable exported products are unmounted and unset diamonds, copper ores and concentrates, then insulated wire or cable. Collectively, those top exported products represent 92.8% of the total sales for Botswanan exports during 2022. Such a high percentage indicates an intensely concentrated portfolio of international trade commodities.
Botswana’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 97.3% of products exported from Botswana were bought by importers in: United Arab Emirates (27.2% of the Botswanan total), Belgium (18.8%), India (15.2%), South Africa (10.1%), Hong Kong (6.5%), Israel (6%), Singapore (4.5%), mainland China (3.1%), Namibia (2.2%), United States of America (2%), Zimbabwe (0.81%) and Cambodia (0.73%).
From a continental perspective, 64% of Botswana’s exports by value was delivered to Asian countries while 19.5% was sold to importers in Europe. Botswana shipped another 13.8% worth of goods to fellow African nations.
Smaller percentages went to customers in North America (2.1%), Latin America (0.6%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then buyers in Oceania’s Australia and New Zealand only (0.01%).
Given Botswana’s population of 2.64 million people, its total $8.28 billion in 2022 exports translates to about $3,100 for every resident in the southern African country. That dollar metric falls exceeds the average $1,575 per capita one year earlier during 2021.
Botswana’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Batswana global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Botswana.
- Gems, precious metals: US$7.2 billion (87.5% of total exports)
- Ores, slag, ash: $322.4 million (3.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $166.7 million (2%)
- Live animals: $96 million (1.2%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $58.6 million (0.7%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $56.2 million (0.7%)
- Machinery including computers: $45.2 million (0.5%)
- Vehicles: $33.6 million (0.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $29.1 million (0.4%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $25.5 million (0.3%)
Botswana’s top 10 exports accounted for 97.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag and ash was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 189.5% from 2021 to 2022. Copper ores and concentrates was a powerful driver for this product category.
In second place for improving export sales was mineral fuels including oi via a 102.7% advance, led by coal.
Botswana’s shipments of electrical machinery and equipment posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 27.7%.
The leading decliner among Botswana’s top 10 export categories was salt, sulphur, stone and cement, thanks to a -14.2% year-over-year drop.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, unmounted and unset diamonds represent Botswana’s most valuable exported product at 87.2% of the country’s total. In second place was copper ores and concentrates (3.9%) trailed by insulated wire or cable (1.8%), live bovine cattle (1.2%), carbonates and percarbonates (0.7%), coal including solid fuels made from coal (also 0.6%), salts and pure sodium chloride (0.3%), gold (also 0.3%), blood fractions (0.2%), and plastic tubes, pipes and fittings (also 0.2%).
Products Driving Botswana’s Best Trade Surpluses
Botswana generated an overall US$271.9 million trade surplus for 2022, reversing a -$980.7 million deficit one year earlier.
The following types of Botswanan 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.
- Gems, precious metals: US$5 billion (Up by 33.1% since 2021)
- Ores, slag, ash: $321.1 million (Up by 191.8%)
- Live animals: $92.8 million (Up by 23.6%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $40.2 million (Up by 15.8%)
- Other base metals: $2.7 million (Reversing a -$1.2 million deficit)
- Nickel: $2.5 million (Reversing a -$1.4 million deficit)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $1.7 million (Up by 27%)
- Woodpulp: $1.2 million (Down by -17.7%)
- Meat: $1.1 million (Down by -58.4%)
- Fish: $641,000 (Reversing a -$1.4 million deficit)
Botswana has highly positive net exports in the international trade of diamonds and, to a lesser extent, gold. In turn, these cashflows indicate Botswana’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals category.
Products Causing Botswana’s Worst Trade Deficits
Below are exports from Botswana that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Botswana’s goods trail Batswana imports.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$1.4 billion (Up by 46.1% since 2021)
- Machinery including computers: -$535.9 million (Up by 4.8%)
- Vehicles: -$418.4 million (Down by -25.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$208.2 million (Down by -11.9%)
- Cereals: -$194.9 million (Up by 41.5%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$162.6 million (Up by 95.3%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$161.2 million (Up by 8.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$155.2 million (Down by -4.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$143.8 million (Up by 5.7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$102.2 million (Down by -42.2%)
Botswana has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category, particularly for refined petroleum oils.
Examples of Botswana’s Export Companies
No Batswana corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Botswana. Selected examples are shown below:
- Botswana Meat Commission (food)
- Botswana Railways (industrial transportation)
- Botswana Telecommunications Corp. (telecommunications)
- Debswana (diamonds, coal)
- MASCOM (mobile phones)
In macroeconomic terms, Botswana’s total exported goods represent 17.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($48.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 17.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 8.9% for 2021. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Botswana’s total economic performance, albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of an economy’s health is the unemployment rate. Botswana’s unemployment rate averaged 25.4% for 2022, down from a 26% jobless rate for 2021 according to Trading Economics.
Botswana’s capital city is Gaborone, nicknamed “Gabs” and named after Chief Gaborone of the native Tlôkwa tribe.
See also Diamond Exports by Country, Belgium’s Top 10 Exports and Diamond Imports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on September 17, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 17, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 17, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 17, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 17, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on September 17, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Botswana. Accessed on September 17, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on September 17, 2023