Swaziland's exports have traditionally equaled a significant portion of GDP. As a result, the country's entire economy tends to mirror world commodity prices, and especially the state of the South African economy.
The value of exports has risen steadily during the 1990s; while the value of imports rose until 1997, when purchases suddenly dropped by 27%. This was probably due to the creation of the South African free trade area. Principal exports in 2000 included sugar, soft drink concentrates (a large US investment), wood pulp and lumber, cotton yarn, and fruit. Principal imports were motor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, food, petroleum products, and chemicals.
Almost 96% of imports either originate in or transit through South Africa, and direct sales to and transshipments through South Africa account for about 72% of Swaziland's exports. About 12% of exports go to the European Union.