That dollar amount reflects a -24.5% decrease since 2017 when Burundi’s overall exports were worth $150 million.
Year over year, overall Burundian export goods fell in value by -30.3% compared to $162.3 million during 2020.
The top 5 most valuable exports from Burundi are coffee, tea, niobium and zirconium ores or concentrates, malt beer, then cigarettes or cigars. Combined, Burundi’s 5 most valuable exported products accounted for 69.4% of all Burundian exports in 2021.
Burundi’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 85% of products exported from Burundi were bought by importers in: Democratic Republic of the Congo (23.9% of the global total), Belgium (12.2%), Pakistan (8.6%), Tanzania (5.8%), Oman (5.3%), Kenya (5.2%), Germany (4.7%), Sudan (4.5%), United Arab Emirates (4.34%), Egypt (4.31%), United Kingdom (3.3%) and Switzerland (2.8%).
From a continental perspective, 50.1% of Burundi’s exports by value were delivered to fellow African countries while 24.1% were sold to importers in Europe. Burundi shipped another 23.6% worth of goods to Asia. Tinier percentages went to North America (1.9%), Oceania’s New Zealand and Australia only (0.33%) then Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.00%).
Given Burundi’s population of 12.2 million people, its total $113.2 million in 2021 exports translates to roughly $10 for every resident in the central eastern African country. That dollar metric falls below the average $15 per capita one year earlier during 2020.
Burundi’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Burundian global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Burundi.
- Coffee, tea, spices: US$52.2 million (46.1% of total exports)
- Ores, slag, ash: $15.6 million (13.8%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $7.3 million (6.5%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $6.1 million (5.4%)
- Iron, steel: $5.9 million (5.3%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $5 million (4.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $3.8 million (3.3%)
- Glass: $3.5 million (3.1%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2.6 million (2.3%)
- Machinery including computers: $1.7 million (1.5%)
Burundi’s top 10 exports accounted for 91.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Machinery including computers was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 107.2% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was ores, slag and ash via a 73.6% advance, led by niobium and zirconium ores or concentrates.
Burundi’s shipments of plastics, both as a material and items made from plastic, posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 21%.
The leading decliner among Burundi’s top 10 export categories was milling products, malt and starches, thanks to a -47.7% year-over-year drop.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, coffee achieved status as Burundi’s most valuable exported product at 24.8% of the African country’s total. In second place was tea (21.3%) trailed by niobium and zirconium ores or concentrates (12.1%), malt beer (5.7%), cigarettes and cigar (5.4%), plated or coated products made from flat-rolled or non-alloy steel (5%), wheat or meslin flour (4.2%), plastic packing items including lids and caps (3.2%), miscellaneous glass containers including bottles and jars (3%), then processed petroleum oils (2.3%).
Products Generating Burundi’s Best Trade Surpluses
The following types of Burundian 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 is 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.
- Coffee, tea, spices: US$51.1 million (Down by -1.3% since 2020)
- Ores, slag, ash: $15.5 million (Up by 72.9%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $2.5 million (Up by 1105.3%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $80,000 (Down by -88.2%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $51,000 (Up by 363.6%)
- Fruits, nuts: $16,000 (Down by -98.5%)
- Nickel: $6,000 (Reversing a -$29,000 deficit)
- Plaiting products, baskets, wickerwork: $4,000 (Reversing a -$26,000 deficit)
Burundi has highly positive net exports in the international trade of coffee, tea and gold. In turn, these cashflows indicate Burundi’s strong competitive advantages under the coffee, tea and spices as well as the gems and precious metals product categories.
Products Causing Burundi’s Worst Trade Deficits
Burundi incurred an overall -$867.9 million trade deficit for 2021, expanding by 16.2% from -$746.8 in red ink one year earlier in 2020.
Below are exports from Burundi that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Burundi’s goods trail Burundian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$176.2 million (Up by 26.2% since 2020)
- Iron, steel: -$83.7 million (Up by 52.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$69.8 million (Up by 8.2%)
- Machinery including computers: -$59.4 million (Up by 16.8%)
- Vehicles: -$57.9 million (Down by -32.6%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: -$48.6 million (Up by 21.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$46 million (Down by -23%)
- Cereals: -$42.8 million (Up by 5.2%)
- Other chemical goods: -$29.5 million (Up by 49.2%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: -$29.2 million (Up by 17.9%)
Burundi has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits particularly for refined petroleum oils under the mineral fuels-related product category.
Burundian Export Companies
Not one Burundian corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists businesses from Burundi that participate in international trade transactions. Selected examples are shown below.
- Air Burundi (airliner)
- Brarudi (brewery)
- FinBank Burundi (commercial bank)
- Interbank Burundi (commercial bank)
- KCB Bank Burundi Limited (commercial bank)
In macroeconomic terms, Burundi’s total exported goods represent an estimated 1.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($9.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 1.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 1.8% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Burundi’s total economic performance, albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Burundi’s capital city is Bujumbura.
See also Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Top 10 Exports, Uganda’s Top 10 Exports, Somalia’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on September 22, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 22, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 22, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 22, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 22, 2022
Wikipedia, Burundi. Accessed on September 22, 2022
Wikipedia, Flag of Burundi. Accessed on September 22, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Burundi. Accessed on September 22, 2022
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Bujumbura, Burundi. Accessed on September 22, 2022