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Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Tanzania is open to foreign trade, which represents 37% of its GDP. The country's trade policy aims to create local industries that are more competitive and to diversify its export sector in order to stimulate economic growth. Tanzania is a member of the East African Community (EAC), along with Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. In 2013, the EAC signed a protocol outlining its plans for launching a monetary union, using the shilling as the common currency.

Low customs duties (the average applied tariff rate is 7%) and few trade restrictions make the country easily accessible for international trade. Trade barriers are mainly of a logistic and non-tariff nature. For example, increased traffic in and out of the Dar es Salaam port, the main port of entry and exit of merchandise for both Tanzania and its landlocked neighbouring countries (Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia), has not been followed up with the necessary infrastructural investments. This constitutes one of the main barriers to trade with these countries. Poorly maintained roads and railroads also make trade difficult. However, the government has launched a large number of projects to improve infrastructure. Obtaining construction permits, registering land, and tax payments remain difficult nonetheless.

Tanzania suffers from a chronic and growing trade deficit as it imports twice as much as it exports. However, due to the increase the country’s hydrocarbon and coal reserves, the deficit is expected to decline sharply in the coming years. In 2016, Tanzania exported USD 5.07 billion and imported USD 9.61 billion, resulting in a negative trade balance of USD 4.54 billion.
The most recent exports were led by gold which represent 21.5% of the total exports of Tanzania, followed by raw tobacco (6.5%). The top export destinations of Tanzania are India (17%), Kenya (12%), South Africa (11%) and China (9.4%).
The main imports were refined petroleum (46.3%) and packaged medicaments (2.2%). The top import origins are Saudi Arabia (38%), China (15%), and India (8.3%).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 11,34612,12011,99810,2859,611
Exports of Goods (million USD) 5,5474,9535,0464,9245,072
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,3102,4362,5992,5692,088
Exports of Services (million USD) 2,7533,1423,3763,6653,720
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -1113-62
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1611823-12
Trade Balance (million USD) -4,430-5,771-5,724-4,441-2,766
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 5449494642
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 3331302523
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 2118192219

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

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Switzerland 16.2%
India 14.8%
South Africa 13.3%
China 7.5%
Kenya 6.6%
Democratic Republic of Congo 6.2%
Belgium 6.0%
Comoros 3.6%
Vietnam 3.1%
Japan 2.9%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 20.8%
India 18.1%
United Arab Emirates 7.5%
South Africa 6.0%
Japan 4.7%
Kenya 3.4%
Malaysia 3.3%
United States 3.2%
Saudi Arabia 2.8%
Germany 2.4%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Products

4.7 bn USD of products exported in 2016
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 34.9%
Unmanufactured tobacco; tobacco refuse 7.6%
Coconuts, brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled 7.3%
Precious metal ores and concentrates 6.8%
Carboys, bottles, flasks, jars, pots, phials, ampoules and other containers, of glass, of a kind used for the conveyance or packing of goods, preserving jars, stoppers, lids and other closures, of glass (excl. glass envelopes and containers, with vacuum insulation, perfume atomizers, flasks, bottles etc. for atomizers) 4.2%
Oil-cake and other solid residues, whether or not ground or in the form of pellets, resulting from the extraction of vegetable fats or oils (excl. from soya-bean oil and ground-nut oil) 3.6%
Dried leguminous vegetables, shelled, whether or not skinned or split 3.4%
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 3.2%
Other oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, whether or not broken (excl. edible nuts, olives, soya beans, ground-nuts, copra, linseed, rape or colza seeds and sunflower seeds) 2.7%
Fish fillets and other fish meat, whether or not minced, fresh, chilled or frozen 2.4%
7.9 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 17.0%
Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 3.4%
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) 3.4%
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) 2.6%
Wheat and meslin 2.4%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 1.8%
Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in solid form 1.6%
New pneumatic tyres, of rubber 1.5%
Tractors (other than tractors of heading 8709) 1.4%
Parts suitable for use solely or principally with the machinery of heading 8425 to 8430, n.e.s. 1.3%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Services

6.8 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Other business services
Communications services
Insurance services
Financial services
Government services
Cultural and recreational services
5.3 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Other business services
Government services
Insurance services
Communications services
Construction services
Computer and information services
Financial services
Cultural and recreational services
Royalties and license fees

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of COMESA - Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

Member of EAC - East African Community

Member of SADC - Southern African Development Community

Useful Resources
Tanzania Revenue Authority
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
You can contact the Business Registrations and Licensing Agency (BRELA)


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

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Last Updates: November 2017