Somalia Trade, Exports and Imports

April 9, 2010Somaliaby EconomyWatch Content


Somalia’s trade balance has been negative almost perpetually, since the nation has scarce agricultural and mineral resources. Besides, Somalian agriculture, which accounts for about 65% of the nation’s GDP, is largely sustainable. This leaves very little scope for improving the nation’s export scenario, making it one of the poorest countries in the world.


Somalia Trade, Exports and Imports: Snapshots

According to the CIA World Factbook, Somalia had a staggering trade deficit of $498 million during 2006. In fact, Somalia's arrears to the International Monetary Fund are also on the rise, as the nation’s economy relies heavily on imports due to lack of natural resources.


According to the International Trade Centre (ITC), the key import commodities of Somalia, along with their share of Somalia’s total imports in 2008, were as follows:

  • Cereals 10.9%

  • Sugars and sugar products 10.6%

  • Edible vegetables, tubers and certain roots 8.4%

  • Animal, and vegetable fats and oils 7.8%

  • Live trees, plants and cut flowers 7.1%


Somalia, despite insufficient resources, did manage to earn revenues worth $300 million from its exports. The top export commodities in 2008 were:

  • Live animals 33.6%

  • Pearls, precious stones and metals 19.4%

  • Raw hides, skins and leather 7.6%

  • Meat 7.2%

  • Oil seed, grain, seed and fruit 5.1%


Additionally, the share of Somalia’s export and import partners in its total trade, according to the CIA World Factbook for 2009, was:


United Arab Emirates








Saudi Arabia





Somalia Trade, Exports and Imports Agreements

Somalia does not have any noteworthy trade agreements, primarily because of the lack of a stable central government. The nation, unlike many of its African counterparts, is not a member of the WTO. Somalia is also not eligible for benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, established in 2000, which enables under-developed African nations to enhance their trade and open their economies to the global market.


Somalia does, however, have independent free trade agreements with several nations, including China, Kenya and Indonesia. The nation is also a member of the Council of Arab Economic Unity, with several Middle Eastern and African nations. This enables Somalia to benefit from certain liberal policies on trade with the member states of the Council, including Egypt, Sudan and Yemen. 

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