Africa, the world’s second-largest continent, has seen a significant shift in its export landscape over the past few decades.
From primarily exporting to Western nations 30 years ago, the continent has diversified its markets, with Asia now being the primary destination.
This article delves into Africa’s top 10 export partners and explores what commodities they are importing.
In 2021, Africa’s top exports to the U.S. showcased the continent’s diverse economic potential, with a total goods trade value of $44.9 billion.
Leading the list of exports were precious metals and stones, particularly platinum, valued at $11.2 billion, followed by mineral fuels at $6.0 billion.
The agricultural sector also made a significant contribution, with cocoa, coffee, and spices among the top exports.
Key suppliers like South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana played a pivotal role in this trade, which supported an estimated 74,000 U.S. jobs in 2020.
The Central African Republic, representing a part of Sub-Saharan Africa, exported goods worth $17.2 million to Italy in 2021. The primary export was gold, valued at an impressive $16.9 million.
This was followed by sawn wood and rough wood, amounting to $119,000 and $108,000, respectively.
The trade relationship has seen a modest annualised growth rate of 0.55% over the last 26 years, rising from $14.9 million in 1995 to its current value.
Last year, France imported goods worth US$982.98 million from South Africa, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database. The top categories of Africa’s top exports to France included mineral fuels, oils, and distillation products valued at $429.44 million, followed by ores, slag, and ash at $125.48 million.
Other significant exports were aluminium ($56.13 million), edible fruits and nuts ($48.49 million), and electrical and electronic equipment ($34.74 million).
Germany imported goods worth $13.58 billion from South Africa in 2022. Focusing on Africa’s top exports to Germany, the leading categories were vehicles other than railway and tramway, valued at $3.52 billion, followed by ores, slag, and ash at $3.34 billion.
Precious stones, metals, and coins accounted for $2.42 billion, while mineral fuels, oils, and distillation products were at $1.30 billion.
Machinery, including nuclear reactors and boilers, contributed $1.12 billion.
As of May 2023, Spain’s imports from South Africa were a delightful mix of the practical and the precious. Leading the pack were delivery trucks, valued at €14.8 million, clearly indicating Spain’s need for heavy-duty logistics.
But it doesn’t stop there; Spain also has a penchant for South African centrifuges, with imports worth €11.7 million.
Now, here’s where it gets glitzy: Spain imported gold worth €10.1 million. Yes, you read that right—gold! And let’s not forget the ferroalloys at €10.1 million, essential for Spain’s industrial activities.
Last but not least, Spain has a taste for South African fish fillets, importing €3.22 million worth.
The UK has a rather eclectic taste when it comes to imports from Africa. South Africa leads the way with precious metals, exporting a whopping $2 billion worth to the UK annually.
Nigeria isn’t far behind, contributing crude oil valued at $2.2 billion. Morocco adds a dash of practicality with vehicles worth $200 million, while Namibia sails in with ships valued at $410 million.
Kenya spices things up with tea exports worth $150 million, and Zambia turns the page with printed books amounting to $180 million.
Mauritius wraps it up with textiles valued at $90 million. So, from bling to books, Africa’s top exports to the UK are as varied as they are valuable.
When it comes to Africa’s top exports to Belgium, the list is quite diverse. Pearls, precious stones, metals, and coins took the lead, valued at $1.65 billion.
Pharmaceutical products followed at $226.89 million, and vehicles other than railway and tramways came in at $223.73 million. Iron and steel were also significant, amounting to $154.68 million.
Other notable categories include mineral fuels, oils, and distillation products at $106.45 million, as well as ores, slag, and ash at $70.13 million.
In 2022, Japan’s imports from Africa were led by South Africa, with a staggering value of 1.3 trillion Japanese yen.
The Land of the Rising Sun primarily imported manufactured goods and metals from South Africa. But that’s not all; Nigeria and Algeria also made their mark, exporting mainly mineral fuels and petroleum to Japan.
In 2022, South Africa’s top exports to the Netherlands include mineral fuels, oils, and distillation products, valued at $1.70 billion. Not far behind are ores, slag, and ash at $1.24 billion, followed by edible fruits, nuts, and citrus peels at $1.04 billion.
The list also includes a variety of other goods, from aluminium and iron to machinery and food preparations.
South Africa and South Korea have a trading relationship that’s been growing steadily over the years. In 2021, South Africa exported Iron Ore, valued at $613 million, Coal Briquettes at $365 million, and Ferroalloys rounding it off at $292 million.
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