That dollar amount reflects a -71.5% plunge since 2017 and a -52.7% drop from 2020 to 2021.
Alternatively called Congo-Brazzaville referring to the nation’s capital, the Congo Republic, the Congo or simply Congo, the Republic of the Congo borders the Central African Republic to its northeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to its southeast, Angola’s enclave Cabinda to its south, Gabon to its west, Cameroon to its northwest.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Congo’s official currency is the Central African CFA franc. Congo’s adopted currency strengthened by 4.5% against the US dollar since 2017 and advanced by 3.7% from 2020 to 2021. Consequently, the Republic of the Congo’s stronger local currency makes its exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers.
The 5 biggest exports from the Republic of the Congo in 2021 were crude oil, refined petroleum oils, the capital-intensive product category featuring floating or submersible drilling or production platforms as well as dredgers and light vessels, rough wood and sawn wood. Combined, that quintet of leading exported product groupings represents about three-quarters (75.9%) of the country’s total exports by value. That percentage and relatively limited range of goods indicates Congo’s concentrated portfolio of export products.
Given the Republic of the Congo’s population of 4.8 million people, its total $2.35 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $500 for every resident in the Central African country. That per-capita export amount is much higher than the average $160 one year earlier in 2020.
Republic of the Congo’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Congo’s global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from the Republic of the Congo.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.3 billion (55% of total exports)
- Wood: $343.1 million (14.6%)
- Ships, boats: $340.7 million (14.5%)
- Vehicles: $110.2 million (4.7%)
- Copper: $77 million (3.3%)
- Machinery including computers: $58.9 million (2.5%)
- Zinc: $29.9 million (1.3%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $20.7 million (0.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $16.2 million (0.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $10.3 million (0.4%)
Congo’s top 10 exported product categories accounted for 97.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Vehicles was the fastest grower among the Congo’s top 10 export categories, up by 3,935% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was copper via a 91.6% gain.
Congo’s shipments of machinery including computers posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 41.2%.
The leading decliner among the Congo ‘s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -65.4% drop year over year. The fuels-related category was weighed down by the Republic of the Congo’s lower revenues from international sales of crude oil and, to a lesser extent, petroleum gases.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, crude oil represents the Republic of the Congo’s most valuable exported product equaling 45.4% of the country’s total by value during 2021. In second place were processed petroleum oils (9.1%) trailed by the capital intensive product category featuring floating or submersible drilling or production platforms as well as dredgers and light vessels (7.4%), rough wood (7.1%), then sawn wood (6.9%).
Products Generating Greatest Trade Surpluses for the Congo
The Republic of the Congo posted an estimated $6.4 million trade surplus in 2021, dwindling by -99.8% from its $3.1 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of product shipments from the Congo 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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.2 billion (Down by -67.4% since 2020)
- Wood: $341 million (Up by 1.1%)
- Ships, boats: $109.5 million (Down by -75.6%)
- Copper: $76.4 million (Up by 94.5%)
- Zinc: $29.9 million (Reversing a -$659 million deficit in 2020)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $8.2 million (Up by 31.9%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $973,000 (Reversing a -$13,000 deficit in 2020)
- Ores, slag, ash: $929,000 (Up by 43.4%)
- Cotton: $309,000 (Reversing a -$2.2 million deficit in 2020)
- Lead: $288,000 (Up by 82.3%)
The Republic of the Congo generated highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude and refined petroleum oils as well as petroleum gases. These cashflows indicate the Congo’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil product category.
Products Causing Biggest Trade Deficits for the Congo
Below are exports from the Republic of the Congo that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country ‘s goods trail the Congo’s importer spending on foreign products.
- Meat: -US$253.6 million (Up by 35.3% since 2020)
- Machinery including computers: -$139.8 million (Down by -16%)
- Cereals: -$137.8 million (Up by 47%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$91.3 million (Down by -3.2%)
- Fish: -$89.5 million (Up by 33%)
- Other chemical goods: -$84.1 million (Up by 303%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$80.6 million (Up by 16.5%)
- Soaps, washing preparations, lubricants, waxes: -$69.4 million (Up by 34.6%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: -$64.6 million (Up by 12.6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$62.7 million (Up by 0.5%)
The Republic of the Congo incurred highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the meat product category including poultry, beef and pork.
Republic of the Congo’s Export Companies
Not one Congolese corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists companies that directly or indirectly support international trade with the Republic of the Congo. Shown below are selected examples of companies headquartered in the Congo’s capital city Brazzaville.
- Development Bank of the Central African States (member-state bank)
- Mistral Aviation (airliner)
- Warid Congo (mobile telecommunications)
Republic of the Congo’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 88.4% of products exported from the Congo were bought by importers in: mainland China (45.7% of the global total), Ivory Coast (8.4%), Togo (7.5%), Cameroon (5.5%), Gabon (4%), United Arab Emirates (3.2%), India (3%), Australia (2.9%), Singapore (2.4%), Angola (2.1%), Belgium (1.9%) and France (1.7%).
From a continental perspective, 57.4% of the Congo’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 30.5% were sold to importers in fellow African countries. Congo shipped another 8.4% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Oceania (2.9%) mostly Australia, North America (0.7%) then Latin America (0.03%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
In macroeconomic terms, the Republic of the Congo’s total exported goods represent 11.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($20.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That percentage provides a benchmark for how much the Republic of the Congo relies on products sold on international markets for its total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. The Congo’s average unemployment rate was an estimated 10% for 2021, down from an average 10.3% in 2020 according to Trading Economics.
Brazzaville serves as the capital city for the Republic of the Congo.
See also Top African Export Countries, South Africa’s Top 10 Exports, Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports and Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: the Republic of the Congo . Accessed on April 8, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 8, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on April 8, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 8, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 8, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 8, 2022
Wikipedia, Republic of the Congo . Accessed on April 8, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 8, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of the Republic of the Congo. Accessed on April 8, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 8, 2022