Trade Profile

flag Eritrea Eritrea: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Eritrea is relatively close to foreign trade, as it represented 47% of the country’s GDP in 2011 (World Bank, latest available data). The country has not signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Non-tariff barriers significantly impede trade. The State maintains strict control on foreign exchange reserves, given the inability of raising foreign currency through exports or on international capital markets. Although this has reduced the gap between the official and informal exchange rates, it also has a severely negative impact on freedom of trade and the vibrancy of the country’s economic development. Eritrea imports 90% of its cereal consumption, whereas agricultural exports (mainly livestock, coffee, cotton and leather) depend on climatic conditions and the underdeveloped irrigation systems. Top exports from Eritrea include zinc ore, gold, copper ore, wheat, and non-knit women's suits, whereas imports are led by sea vessels, sorghum, wheat flours, other edible preparations, and refined petroleum (data OEC 2022).

Eritrea’s main export partners are China (52.3%), United Arab Emirates (33.3%), South Korea (9.4%), Japan (2%), and Madagascar (1.9%); while imports are led by China (33.6%), United Arab Emirates (25.9%), Turkey (12.2%), United States (7.1%), and India (4% - data OEC).

Eritrea is facing a widening trade deficit, as the country is dependent on imports for food, capital goods (which are increasing with construction projects), and oil. In 2022, Eritrea’s exports of goods amounted to USD 578 million, whereas imports of goods reached USD 726 billion (+20% and +23.4% year on year, respectively - data WTO).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 565569602843524
Exports of Goods (million USD) 530306489579495

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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Commercial Policy

International Economic Cooperation
Member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Eritrea and the WTO
Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products)

Trade Compliance

International Economic Cooperation
Member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
Useful Resources

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Latest Update: May 2024