Burkina Faso's balance of payments is chronically negative, as receipts from exports of goods and services typically only cover 30–40% of imports. It has had to rely heavily on remittances from Burkinabe working abroad and on international credits and other forms of borrowing to help offset widening trade imbalances. These factors, together with net capital inflows, generated a slight surplus from 1986 to 1988. Declining gold exports and falling cotton prices in 1989, coupled with increased imports and declining remittances from abroad, seriously deteriorated Burkina Faso's trade balance. By 1990, however, recovery in the gold and cotton sectors reduced the current account deficit to about 14% of GDP (from over 17% in 1989).
Burkina Faso and the IMF agreed upon a structural adjustment program in 1990 in which rigorous financial control was made a priority. Tax collections were improved and salaries stabilized to the point that budget surpluses were attained in 1989 and 1991. A value-added tax took effect in 1993. An enhanced structural adjustment program negotiated in 1993 sought growth of 3–11% annually while curbing ongoing financial imbalances. In 2003, the IMF approved a three-year $34 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement with Burkina Faso.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Burkina Faso's exports was $265 million while imports totaled $580 million resulting in a trade deficit of $315 million.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that in 1994 Burkina Faso had exports of goods totaling $216 million and imports totaling $344 million. The services credit totaled $56 million and debit $138 million. The following table summarizes Burkina Faso's balance of payments as reported by the IMF for 1994 in millions of US dollars.
|Balance on goods||-129|
|Balance on services||-82|
|Balance on income||-29|
|Direct investment abroad||…|
|Direct investment in Burkina Faso||…|
|Portfolio investment assets||…|
|Portfolio investment liabilities||…|
|Other investment assets||-139|
|Other investment liabilities||125|
|Net Errors and Omissions||-8|
|Reserves and Related Items||7|