Trade Profile

flag South Sudan South Sudan: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Foreign trade accounted for 66% of the country’s GDP according to the World Bank’s last available data. Policies established by the South Sudanese government since its independence in 2011 aim to integrate the country into the international trade network. South Sudan has gradually moved closer to the East African Community (EAC), which includes Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda, and has officially become a member in 2016. The country’s exports are almost entirely constituted by oil (87.3% in 2022), with minor shares for pearls (4%) and oil seeds (3.7%). Imports are more diversified and include vehicles (7.8%), articles of apparel and clothing accessories (7.5%), machinery and mechanical appliances (6.5%), products of the milling industry (6.2%), beverages, spirits, and vinegar (5.3%), electrical machinery and equipment (4.8%), sugars and sugar confectionery (4.7%), animal, vegetable, or microbial fats and oils (4.5% - data ITC 2022).

In terms of countries, in 2022, South Sudan's main export partners were China (46.4%), Italy (27.6%), Singapore (13.2%), and the United Arab Emirates (3.9%); whereas the main origins for the country’s imports were Uganda (40.6%), the United Arab Emirates (24.5%), Kenya (13.3%), China (10.5%), and India (2% - data ITC). South Sudan has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 2016. As a WTO member, the country is committed to liberalizing its trade regime, reducing trade barriers, and promoting free trade. However, the implementation of WTO rules and regulations in South Sudan is still in its early stages. The country has also signed a preferential trade agreement with Sudan, its northern neighbor, in 2012. This agreement grants South Sudan preferential access to the Sudanese market, and vice versa, by reducing tariffs on certain goods. Furthermore, South Sudan has signed several other bilateral agreements with countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, and Uganda, aimed at promoting trade, investment, and economic cooperation. Despite these trade agreements, South Sudan's foreign trade remains limited, with most of its exports being oil and agricultural products. The country faces several challenges, including a lack of infrastructure, limited productive capacity, and political instability, that hinder its ability to diversify its exports and attract foreign investment.

South Sudan has a structural trade deficit, and its exports (comprising mostly oil) are too dependent on the fluctuation of global commodity prices. According to ITC data, the country exported USD 510 million worth of goods in 2022, stable year-on-year, against USD 1.5 billion in imports (+18.3% y-o-y). In the same period, export of services stood at only USD 410 million; whereas imports hit USD 2.7 billion. Between November 2023 and January 2024, South Sudan exported approximately 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil. However, disruptions occurred due to a blockade by Houthi militants in the Red Sea since January, targeting cargo ships. Additionally, one of the country's major oil pipelines to international markets, passing through Sudan, was damaged in February 2024. This pipeline contributes significantly to South Sudan's oil revenues, with estimates ranging from two-thirds to three-quarters. Failure to restore the pipeline's functionality will exert considerable strain on South Sudan's exports and therefore on its budget.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Trade Balance (million USD) 8931,4692732,358927

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

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Commercial Policy

International Economic Cooperation
South Sudan seeks to integrate itself in the International Trade Network.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products)

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Latest Update: May 2024