Foreign trade plays a strategic role in the economy of Guinea-Bissau, accounting for 44% of its GDP, according to the latest World Bank data. The top exports of Guinea-Bissau are cashew nuts (around 75% of total exports), fish (12.4%), and mineral oil (11%); whereas imports are led by mineral fuels (13% of the total), rice (8.6%), vessels (8%), beverages and spirits (8% - ITC, 2021).
Guinea Bissau's major export partners are India (71.7%), Pakistan (11%), Ivory Coast (8%), Turkey (2.4%), and Togo (1.5%). Imports mainly come from Portugal (26.5%), China (21.6%), Senegal (14.7%), the Netherlands (6%), and Saudi Arabia (4.8% - ITC, 2021). The country introduced a Common External Tariff (CET) in early 2000, in collaboration with other countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). Guinea Bissau is also a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The government is seeking to strengthen its relations with several countries and organisations in order to promote foreign trade. Government reforms such as price liberalisation, as well as privatisation and structural adjustment programs are expected to impact international trade in the long term. However, a serious lack of infrastructure, political instability and high commodities costs are obstacles to trade development.
Guinea Bissau’s trade balance is structurally in deficit, and it worsened in recent years, mainly due to a drop in commodity prices and the global pandemic. According to WTO, in 2021 the country imported USD 355 million worth of goods, exporting only USD 215 million (+24.5% and +8.5% year-on-year, respectively). In the same year, Guinea Bissau imported USD 148 million of services while its exports amounted to USD 21 million.
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||291||284||335||285||355|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||329||339||249||198||215|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||154||165||166||148||148|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||32||38||41||26||21|
|Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||19||-17||14||-3||n/a|
|Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||-18||20||9||-15||n/a|
|Trade Balance (million USD)||49||46||-86||-93||n/a|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||61||56||55||44||n/a|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||33||31||35||29||n/a|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||28||25||20||14||n/a|
Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.
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Latest Update: September 2023