Botswana's leading trade partners are the EU, other Southern African Customs Union nations (South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland), and Zimbabwe. The government of Botswana has increased economic integration with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), ratifying a Trade Protocol to ease trade barriers, which was scheduled to come into effect eight years from it's completion. With recurrent drought and only 5% arable land, Botswana imports much of its food and other basic needs, primarily through South Africa. Indirectly, the US accounts for a sizeable portion of Botswana's imports (manufactured goods) and exports (diamonds).
Exports fell as a result of the 1997 East Asian financial recession, especially diamond exports, which dropped from $2.1 billion in 1997 to 1.7 billion in 1998. However, between 1999 and 2000 exports rebounded at a rate of 7.7%. Imports 1997 and 1998 were $1.6 billion both years. In 1997, diamonds accounted for 76% of exports; and copper and nickel, 4%. Leading imports included foodstuffs; vehicles and transport equipment; textiles; and petroleum products.