There is a chronic international trade deficit , with exports in 1999 valued at US$396 million, and imports at US$566 million. However, the large number of un-recorded transactions means that assessment is difficult, mainly due to illegal cross-border trade with Nigeria.
Cotton is the most important export, followed by oil. Re-exports (goods that are imported into Benin and then sent to neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso and Niger) account for one-third to one-half of total exports, while food and capital goods account for one-quarter and one-fifth of imports respectively.
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Benin|
|SOURCE : International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
In 1999, France (38 percent), China (16 percent), the United Kingdom (9 percent), and Côte d'Ivoire (5 percent) were the main sources of imports for Benin. Currently, Asia supplies rice and manufactured goods for regional re-exports. Brazil (14 percent), Libya (5 percent), Indonesia (4 percent), and Italy (4 percent) are the main destination for exports, mainly cotton, in 1999.