That dollar amount reflects a 73.2% increase since 2016 and a 34.3% acceleration from 2019 to 2020.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the West African CFA franc appreciated by 2.9% against the US dollar since 2016 and increased in value by 1.8% from 2019 to 2020. Burkina Faso’s stronger local currency makes its exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers during 2020.
Burkina Faso’s biggest 3 exports by value are gold, cotton and oil seeds which, collectively, accounted for 89.9% of the overall revenues from all of the country’s exports in 2020. Such a high percentage indicates Burkina Faso’s intensely concentrated set of exported goods.
Major Trading Partners of Burkina Faso
The latest available country-specific data shows that 96.2% of products exported from Burkina Faso were bought by importers in: Switzerland (76.3% of the global total), India (6.8%), Ivory Coast (2.9%), Singapore (2.7%), Ghana (1.4%), France (1.3%), Niger (1.2%), Mali (0.9%), Togo (0.8%), Mauritius (also 0.8%), Greece (0.6%) and Denmark (also 0.6%).
From a continental perspective, 80.3% of Burkina Faso’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 10.9% were sold to importers in Asia. Burkina Faso shipped another 8.5% worth of goods to fellow African nations. Tinier percentages went to North America (0.3%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.01%) then Oceania’s Australia only (0.003%).
Given Burkina Faso’s population of 20.9 million people, its total $4.38 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $200 for every resident in the northwest African country.
Burkina Faso’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Burkinabe global shipments during 2020, 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 Burkina Faso.
- Gems, precious metals: US$3.6 billion (81.6% of total exports)
- Cotton: $265.4 million (6.1%)
- Oil seeds: $116.6 million (2.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $105.7 million (2.4%)
- Fruits, nuts: $95.8 million (2.2%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $36.1 million (0.8%)
- Machinery including computers: $31.2 million (0.7%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $31.1 million (0.7%)
- Cereals: $28 million (0.6%)
- Iron, steel: $16.6 million (0.4%)
Burkina Faso’s top 10 exports accounted for 98.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag and ash was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 3,521,767% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales was the salt, sulphur, stone and cement category via a 262.9% gain.
Burkina Faso’s shipments of cereals posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 243.2%.
The leading decliner among Burkina Faso’s top 10 export categories was cotton, thanks to its -25.3% drop year over year
Drilling down to 4-digit HTS codes, Burkina Faso’s most valuable exported goods include gold (81.4% of its global total), uncarded cotton (6%), oil seeds (2.5%), zinc ores or concentrates (2.4%), cashew nuts and coconuts (1.6%) then fixed vegetable fats and oils (0.8%).
Burkina Faso incurred an overall $196.7 million trade surplus for 2020, reversing a -$998.2 million deficit one year earlier.
The following types of Burkinabe 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$3.6 billion (Up by 57.4% since 2019)
- Cotton: $262.4 million (Down by -25.7%)
- Oil seeds: $108.7 million (Down by -18.9%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $105.4 million (Reversing a -$212,000 deficit)
- Fruits, nuts: $91.8 million (Down by -21.1%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $10.4 million (Up by 3.6%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $8.7 million (Up by 89.2%)
- Zinc: $1.2 million (Down by -99.2%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $1.1 million (Down by -45%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $254,000 (Down by -35%)
Burkina Faso has highly positive net exports in the international trade of gold. In turn, these cashflows indicate Burkina Faso’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals category.
Below are exports from Burkina Faso that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Burkina Faso’s goods trail Burkinabe importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$1.1 billion (Down by -6.8% since 2019)
- Machinery including computers: -$420 million (Down by -12.6%)
- Vehicles: -$305.4 million (Down by -11.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$252.9 million (Down by -7.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$241.3 million (Up by 11%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: -$166 million (Up by 71.5%)
- Iron, steel: -$138.9 million (Down by -4.1%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$124.7 million (Down by -14.3%)
- Cereals: -$116.2 million (Down by -22.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$94.2 million (Down by -2.9%)
Burkina Faso has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits related to the mineral fuels including oil category. That category was weighed down by red ink for refined petroleum oils, electricity, petroleum gas then petroleum coke.
Burkinabe Export Companies
Not one Burkinabe corporation ranks on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
Wikipedia lists companies located in Burkina Faso. Selected examples are shown below.
- Air Burkina (airliner)
- Faso Airways (airliner)
- Tovio (sportswear, equipment)
In macroeconomic terms, Burkina Faso’s total exported goods represent 9.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($47.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 9.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 7.7% for 2019. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Burkina Faso’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Burkina Faso’s average unemployment rate was 5% for 2020, up from an average 4.6% in 2019 according to Trading Economics.
Burkina Faso’s capital city is Ouagadougou.
See also OPEC Countries Crude Oil Exports Sales Data, Report Card for Trade Surpluses and Deficits by Country, Top Cork Exporting Countries and Capital Facts for Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: Burkina Faso. Accessed on October 4, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 4, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average)
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 4, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on October 4, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 4, 2021
Wikipedia, Burkina Faso. Accessed on October 4, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on October 4, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Burkina Faso. Accessed on October 4, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on October 4, 2021