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Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Ethiopia is relatively open to international trade, with a foreign trade-to-GDP ratio of 36% (2016, World Bank). It is a member of the IGAD and the COMESA (but has not joined the free trade zone) and, since March 2003, has been in the process of joining the WTO. As part of this process, the government is restructuring the custom tariffs. In order to rationalise the opportunities for investment, it has introduced lower duties on raw materials and semi-finished products.
Historically in deficit, the trade balance continues to deepen due to its investment-led economy, which strongly encourages imports. The country's trade balance partially depends on climatic events, which sometimes force Ethiopia, a large agricultural producer, to import grains during droughts. In 2017, the country exported USD 3 billion worth of goods, while imports reached USD 16.7 million, thus resulting in a trade deficit of nearly USD 13.3 billion.
Ethiopia mainly exports coffee, oil seeds, petroleum products, flowers and gold, with the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Germany as the main partners.
The country mainly imports machinery and aircraft, metal and metal products and electrical materials. The main countries of origin are China, U.S., India and Kuwait.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 11,91314,89918,99119,06316,588
Exports of Goods (million USD) 2,8914,0774,4693,8254,612
Imports of Services (million USD) 3,5813,3634,2304,6123,627
Exports of Services (million USD) 2,5372,8672,7342,8512,981
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 22420220
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -1003-11-8
Trade Balance (million USD) -7,289-7,776-10,350-12,057-11,881
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 4541414036
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 3229293028
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 14121298

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

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United States 9.8%
Saudi Arabia 9.7%
Germany 8.6%
Switzerland 7.6%
China 5.1%
United Arab Emirates 5.0%
Pakistan 4.4%
Japan 3.5%
Italy 3.4%
Belgium 3.1%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 31.9%
United States 8.8%
India 7.5%
Kuwait 5.6%
Japan 4.2%
Italy 4.0%
Turkey 3.6%
Sweden 2.7%
United Arab Emirates 2.5%
Bahrain 2.3%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Products

1.7 bn USD of products exported in 2016
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 41.5%
Dried leguminous vegetables, shelled, whether or not skinned or split 14.4%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 7.5%
Meat of sheep or goats, fresh, chilled or frozen 5.7%
Leather further prepared after tanning or crusting incl. parchment-dressed leather, of sheep or lambs, without wool on, whether or not split (excl. chamois leather, patent leather and patent laminated leather, and metallized leather) 2.5%
Footwear with outer soles of rubber or plastics, with uppers other than rubber, plastics, leather or textile materials; footwear with outer soles of leather or composition leather, with uppers other than leather or textile materials; footwear with outer soles of wood, cork, twine, paperboard, furskin, woven fabrics, felt, nonwovens, linoleum, raffia, straw, loofah, etc and uppers of any type of material, n.e.s. 2.4%
Measuring or checking instruments, appliances and machines not elsewhere specified in chapter 90; profile projectors 2.0%
Leather further prepared after tanning or crusting incl. parchment-dressed leather, of goats or kids, pigs, reptiles and other animals, without wool or hair on, and leather of hairless animals, whether or not split (excl. leather of bovine and equine animals, sheep and lambs, and chamois leather, patent leather and patent laminated leather, and metallized leather) 2.0%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 1.4%
Pepper of the genus piper; dried or crushed or ground fruits of the genus capsicum or of the genus pimenta 1.0%
19.1 bn USD of products imported in 2016
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 10.1%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 4.2%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.3%
Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 2.7%
Mineral or chemical fertilizers containing two or three of the fertilizing elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; other fertilizers (excl. pure animal or vegetable fertilizers or mineral or chemical nitrogenous, phosphatic or potassic fertilizers); animal, vegetable, mineral or chemical fertilizers in tablets or similar forms or in packages of a gross weight of <= 10 kg 2.2%
Prepared unrecorded media for sound recording or similar recording of other phenomena (excl. products of chapter 37) 2.2%
Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 2.1%
Structures and parts of structures e.g., bridges and bridge-sections, lock-gates, towers, lattice masts, roofs, roofing frameworks, doors and windows and their frames and thresholds for doors, shutters, balustrades, pillars and columns, of iron or steel; plates, rods, angles, shapes, sections, tubes and the like, prepared for use in structures, of iron or steel (excl. prefabricated buildings of heading 9406) 2.1%
Turbo-jets, turbo-propellers and other gas turbines 2.1%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 1.8%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Services

5.6 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Government services
6.8 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Government services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data


Trade Compliance

Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of African Union
Useful Resources
Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO).


Learn more about How to Export to Ethiopia on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Last Updates: June 2018