Building capacity to help Africa trade better

The European Union and the African Union: A statistical portrait – 2016 edition


The European Union and the African Union: A statistical portrait – 2016 edition

The European Union and the African Union: A statistical portrait – 2016 edition
Photo credit: European Commission


Africa-EU Strategic Partnership

Africa’s continental integration is a key priority for the strategic partnership between the African Union and the European Union. The new Pan-African Programme will provide a major contribution to the Africa-EU Partnership, established by the two continents in 2007 with the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), in order to put their relations on a new footing. The programme is a key instrument for the European Union to implement, in close cooperation with African partners, the political priorities of the Joint roadmap 2014-17, which was adopted by African and European Union Heads of State and Government during the 4th EU-Africa summit in April 2014.

The eighth College to College (C2C) meeting took place between the African Union Commission and the European Commission on 7 April 2016 in Addis Ababa and reaffirmed the aims of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and of its five priority areas of the Joint Roadmap:

  1. Peace and Security
  2. Democracy, Good Governance and Human Rights
  3. Human development
  4. Sustainable and inclusive development and growth and continental integration
  5. Global and emerging issues

Support for statistical capacity building is essential to underpin all strategic objectives. Africa’s Agenda 2063 gives a long-term vision for Africa over the next fifty years. Globally, the Agenda 2030 represents a global commitment to work together towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Pan-African Statistics (PAS) programme, as part of the overall Pan-African Programme, aims to support African integration by improving the availability and quality of statistical information required for informed decision-making and policy monitoring. To this end it will provide technical assistance to enhance harmonisation and coordination of statistics on the continent and to foster institutional capacity building. It also supports preparations towards a statistical institute at African Union level, the creation of which was decided by the African Heads of States and Governments in January 2013.

The publication

This statistical book presents a range of statistics on African and European countries.

The first chapter gives an overview of demography, key economic indicators and external trade in Africa, Europe and some selected countries or world regions.

Following this, seven thematic chapters present balanced sets of key indicators: demography, health, education, national accounts, economy and finance, industry and services and external economic relations. Two tables are available for each indicator, one presenting data for the African countries and the other one for the European countries.

The data presented in this publication cover the period up to 2015, or until the last year for which data are available.


International trade

Africa accounted for around 8% of imports to the EU-28 and 9% of exports from the EU-28 in 2015, measured by value (Figure 1.10). This was far behind Asia, which stood for 45% of imports to the EU-28 and 36% of exports. As comparison, Northern America accounted for 16% of EU-28 imports but was the destination for 23% of EU-28 exports.

EU trade by partner region Eurostat Feb 2017

The EU-28 trade balance with Africa for goods was negative in all years between 2003 and 2014, but turned to a surplus in 2015 (Figure 1.11). The European Union’s trade deficit with Africa fell sharply from 41.2 billion EUR in 2008 to 3.8 billion EUR in 2009, clearly reflecting the worldwide economic crisis, with both import and export values dropping.

EU trade in goods with Africa Eurostat Feb 2017

This fall in both exports and imports broke the steady increase in trade between EU-28 and Africa between 2003 and 2008, which had seen EU-28 exports to Africa raise by 71% and imports by 94% over this period. From 2009 to 2012, EU-28 exports to Africa returned to growth, before stabilising at around 153 billion EUR from 2013 to 2015. Also the imports from Africa resumed its strong growth in 2009, exceeding the pre-crisis value by 16% in 2012. However, from 2013 onwards the value of EU-28 imports from Africa has fallen each year. By 2015, the imports from Africa, at 132.0 billion EUR, had fallen by 29% compared to the peak of 186.7 billion EUR in 2012. By far the main cause for this was the fall in value of crude oil and natural gas imports from Africa, due in large part to falling world market prices for these products.

In 2015, the three main African partners for imports of goods to the EU-28 were Algeria (16% of total import value from Africa), South Africa (15%) and Nigeria (14%) (Figure 1.12). Together, these three countries accounted for 45% of EU-28 imports from Africa. For both Algeria and Nigeria, the main product group imported to the EU-28 was petroleum products, more specifically crude oil and natural gas. Due to the fall in petroleum prices, the value of this trade has fallen and both have seen their share in EU-28 imports from Africa falling in recent years. Libya has seen an even stronger fall in its share of EU-28 imports, due partly to the fall in petroleum prices and partly to the continued instability following the Civil War of 2011. In 2013, Libya ranked third among African importers to EU-28 with 14% of the import value. By 2015, Libya was ranked seventh with only 6% of the import value from Africa. The main African destination for EU-28 exports in 2015 was South Africa, taking 17% of these exports. Thereafter followed Algeria (14%), Egypt (13%) and Morocco (12%) (Figure 1.13).

EU trade with African countries Eurostat Feb 2017

Considering the products traded, the EU-28’s major imports from Africa were above all energy products (Table 1.3). For these products (in particular crude oil), Africa is second only to Russia as an EU-28 import source. In 2015, despite falling by half since 2012, the value of energy product imports from Africa still amounted to EUR 61.6 billion. This made up 46.6% of EU-28 imports from Africa that year. Other important groups of goods imported from Africa were food and live animals (12.3% of total EU-28 imports from Africa), machinery and vehicles (10.9%) as well as manufactured products classified by material (9.4%).

In 2015, EU-28 exports to Africa mainly consisted of processed products. The main product group was machinery and vehicles, in particular road vehicles; with 57.4 billion EUR, this product group accounted for 37.3% of EU-28 export value to Africa (Table 1.4). Other important product groups were manufactured products classified by material (22.2 billion EUR) and chemicals (20.8 billion EUR), accounting for 14.4% and 13.5% of the value of EU-28 exports to Africa in 2015 respectively (Figure 1.14). For EU-28 exports of energy products to Africa, there was a significant reverse flow of refined oil products, amounting to some 17.9 billion EUR (11.6%) in 2015.

EU trade with Africa by product group Eurostat Feb 2017

From 2014 to 2015, the value of exports to Africa of machinery and vehicles, the largest product group by far, grew by 4%. Amongst the other main product groups, the export value from EU-28 to Africa fell by 1% for manufactured products classified by material, rose by 8% for chemicals, but fell by almost 15% for energy products.

On the import side, the value of imports of energy products from Africa fell by a third from 2014 to 2015, following drops of 15% in 2014 and 12% in 2013. This downturn was partly due to the falling world market prices for petroleum products and partly due to falls in the quantities imported from a number of important countries from 2014 to 2015. Notable amongst these was a strong fall in the volumes of energy products imported from Libya (-19%), South Africa (-18%), Equatorial Guinea (-14%) and Algeria (-5%). In addition to energy products, there were also slight declines in the values of crude materials and chemicals imported from Africa to EU-28 (both -3%), as well as for manufactured products classified by material (-1%). For all other main groups of commodities, the value of imports increased from 2014 to 2015.


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