Trade Profile

flag Vanuatu Vanuatu: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Trade is essential to Vanuatu’s economy and represented 53% of the country's GDP in 2021 according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources in 2021. Vanuatu is a member of WTO since 2012 and the country has committed to strengthening their partnership from 2018.

The main exports are non-fillet frozen fish (42.1% of all exports in 2021), Special purpose ships (30.6%) and passenger and cargo ships (8.35%); while the country mainly imports fuels (12.6% of all imports in 2021), fishing ships (3.64%), poultry meat (3.42%) and rice with 2.19% (OEC, 2023). In January 2020, the government decided to suspend the issuing and renewal of all kava export licences, due to concerns that exporters where taking advantage of farmers, paying them too low prices (in some cases -90% compared to normal prices). The country main trading partners in 2020 were Thailand (53.8% of all exports), Japan (17.9%), South Korea (5.84%) and Cyprus (5.43%) ; while imports came mainly from China (25.5%), Australia (15.7%), New Zealand (14.9%) and Fiji with 8.47% (OEC, 2023).

The archipelago imports more than it exports, which creates a structural trade deficit, a trend that has worsened since the economic slowdown and the damage caused by recent cyclones which Vanuatu still has to fully recover from. According to 2022 figures from the WTO, Vanuatu exported 54 million USD worth of goods in 2021 and imported 339 million USD resulting in a deficit of 285 million USD. Custom duties are relatively high since the country's income is mainly generated through import duties. High tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade have held back integration into the global marketplace, just as limited availability of funds, lack of adequate infrastructure and the long distances between the markets of the main islands create additional barriers to trade.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 370390357301339
Exports of Goods (million USD) 4761564654
Imports of Services (million USD) 155152139141124
Exports of Services (million USD) 36036733213036
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3102-182
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -1311-70-42
Trade Balance (million USD) -256-240-224-208-242
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 10698995953
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 5850494243
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 4847501710

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

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Commercial Policy

International Economic Cooperation
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Country's commercial policy
Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products)

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Useful Resources
Vanuatu Customs & Inland Revenue Website

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Latest Update: September 2023