Due to an underdeveloped industrial sector, Madagascar trade figures depend highly on agricultural productivity. Before the 1990s, the country had strong trade relations with the western nations. Later, the country developed strong ties with the emerging economies of Asia.
Madagascar Trade: Exports
As per the 2009 estimates, Madagascar’s total export is worth $1.04 billion. This is approximately $0.25 billion less than the previous year’s data. The country ranks 148 in the world in terms of total export volume (2009 estimates). Being a predominantly agrarian economy, cash crops dominate the country’s export list. Some of the major export crops are coffee, sugar and vanilla. Apart from agricultural products, Madagascar exports petroleum products and chromite ore.
According to 2008 data available with the CIA World Factbook, France is the largest export partner of Madagascar. It accounts for a share of approximately 39% of the total export volume. The country has had healthy trade relations with France since the colonial era. Other major export partners are the US and Germany, which represent shares of 20.3% and 5%, respectively.
Madagascar Trade: Imports
Madagascar’s trade imports stand at $1.836 billion (2009 estimates). The country ranks 153 in the world in terms of total import volumes. Madagascar has an insignificant industrial sector. Thus, the country has to import a large portion of the manufactured products it consumes. Major items of import for Madagascar are consumer goods, heavy machinery, capital goods and food.
China is the main import partner for Madagascar with a share of more than 20% in terms of total volume. Other major import partners are Bahrain, France, South Africa, the US and India.
In the 1980s, Madagascar’s government began economic reforms under pressure from the World Bank. These reforms aimed at developing the industrial sector and increasing agricultural productivity. In 1993, the government initiated an over-ambitious program to create an export processing zone. As a result of these structural reforms, Madagascar’s economy enjoyed a high growth rate, coupled with a significant rise in export volume. However, after 2002, the economy has been recording retarded growth particularly due to political unrest.