Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 11/30/2016
  • Benin is a stable democracy with a small domestic market.  The country’s economy is heavily dependent on trade ties to its neighbors, particularly Nigeria.  Cotton production and processing accounts for about 5 percent of Benin’s GDP and 27 percent of exports.  The country’s biggest sources of cash are based on revenues collected at the Port of Cotonou.  A large informal sector, estimated at over 70 percent of GDP, is based primarily on the unregulated trade with Nigeria.

  • In 2014 Benin imported about $2.87 billion in goods such as rice, meat and poultry, alcoholic beverages, fuel plastic materials, specialized mining and excavating machinery, telecommunications equipment, passenger cars, and toiletries and cosmetics. Benin’s total export was $416 million in 2014. Principal exports are ginned cotton, cotton cake, cotton seeds, cashew, shea butter, cooking oil, and lumber. Benin’s major trading partners include Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chad, China, Cote-d’Ivoire, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Spain, U.K., the United States; and Togo. 

  • Currently trade between Benin and the United States is small.  The 2015 trade balance is in favor of the United States, though it decreased from $776.1 to $627.1 million in 2015. 

  • Benin with its modern port can be used as a platform to reach over 100 million consumers in neighboring landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad, and over 155 million in Nigeria alone.

  • While Benin’s immediate energy needs are severe, the government has announced an ambitious plan to meet latent demand over the next decade. Private sector engagement in independent power production (IPP) aims to increase electrical power production and reduce Benin’s dependence on Nigeria and Ghana.  The Government promotes build, operate, and transfer (BOT) projects to reach its stated goal of 4,000 MW available through power plants and hydropower dams.  Benin signed a second Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact in 2015 budgeted at $375 million and devoted entirely to power sector improvements.  The project will increase Benin’s domestic generation capacity by up to 78 megawatts (MW) through investments in solar (MCC’s largest to date at 45MW), thermal (rehabilitation of 32 MW) and hydro generation (rehabilitation of 1 MW run of river unit).

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

Benin Trade Development and Promotion