Trade Data Analysis

US-Africa trading relationship – Trade at a Glance 2016

US-Africa trading relationship – Trade at a Glance 2016

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This brief provides a snapshot of the US’ trade performance with African trading partners. The aim is to give an idea of the US’ main partners, and the major products or sectors that the US is trading in. All data is sourced from the United Nations (UN) International trade Centre (ITC) TradeMap database and data is analysed over the review period from 2010-2016.

To analyse performance and trends we make use of two main indicators, namely market share and growth with the latter calculated as a compound annual growth rate (CAGR). As this is a snapshot analysis, the analysis provided is purely descriptive. It is important to note that African countries benefit from preferential access to the US through two regimes – i) the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), which provides duty free access of certain goods to the US market for eligible African countries; and ii) the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) that allows eligible developing countries to import duty-free imports on more than 5 000 product lines. The GSP differs from AGOA in that apart from providing duty-free access, some products receive reduced rates. The GSP extends to developing countries globally and is thus not limited to sub-Saharan Africa.

Synopsis: Big picture – trade performance

During this review period, trade data reveals that for the most part, the US maintained a trade deficit with Africa (i.e. imported more than its exports). However, this has changed slightly in 2014, but latest 2016 data reveals that the US has a trade deficit with Africa.

In terms of total trade, the US trade with Africa is quite low with the US only importing 2% and exporting 1% of its total trade to trade to the African Continent. Latest 2016 data reveals that total trade between the US and Africa was under US$50 billion. US imports from Africa in 2016 were just above US$27 billion and exports were close to US$22 billion.

In terms of growth performance US imports from Africa declined significantly over the review period in contrast to US exports to Africa. US imports declined by 18% (CAGR) while exports to Africa declined by a mere 4% (CAGR) for the review period 2010-2016. The significant decline is mainly attributed to the decline in imports from Oil producing countries such as Angola and Nigeria (which coincidentally is the period when oil prices were dropping in the global market).

Despite having 54 countries in Africa, the US only trades with a few of these. The top 15 countries account for 92% of US’s imports and 88% of its exports to Africa.

This Brief updates a previous analysis of the US-Africa trading relationship over the period 2006 to 2015.


US-Africa trading relationship: Synopsis | July 2017 - Author(s): Taku Fundira
US-Africa trade data update: Spreadsheet | July 2017 - Author(s): Taku Fundira
US-Africa trade profile 2010-2016: Infographic | August 2017 - Author(s): Taku Fundira

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