Benin Economy Facts

Economical overview

Benin’s economy is built around mainly agriculture and trade with the outside world. Assistance is also of great economic importance. Benin is sensitive to external factors such as varying world market prices of the main export commodity cotton or natural disasters.

A large part of the trade exchange with neighboring countries is smuggling and never comes to the authorities’ knowledge. The majority of this trade, which is estimated to correspond to one third of gross domestic product (GDP), is done with the large neighbor Nigeria. From Nigeria, fuel is smuggled, which is subsidized in Nigeria and therefore profitable to sell in Benin. Instead, large quantities of goods imported from different parts of the world are shipped to Benin from Nigeria. A joint duty rate for imports introduced by the West African countries within Ecowas in January 2015 was expected to affect the lucrative informal trade between the countries. Since the tariff would then be the same in the countries, the black border trade would be less attractive. That would mean a loss of income for Benin.

  • Major imports by Benin, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.

Transit trade to coastal countries in the area, particularly Burkina Faso and Niger, is also important.

The strong external dependence made the global financial crisis in the late 00s more noticeable to Benin than to many of the neighboring countries. A severe flood in 2010, when a large part of the country was submerged and, not least, the cotton crops hit hard, meant a further breakdown for the economy (see Agriculture and Fisheries). But from 2012 GDP grew again by just over 5 percent and the development lasted for the next three years. The economic upturn was helped by a modernization of the port of Cotonou and by improved routines around operations there, including when it came to customs duties. At the same time, inflation was kept at a low level while the government also had control over the country’s debts.

  • Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including BEN which represents the country of Benin. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Benin.


GDP per person

US $ 902 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 10,359 million (2018)

GDP growth

6.9 percent (2018)

Agriculture’s share of GDP

22.6 percent (2018)

Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP

12.3 percent (2018)

The service sector’s share of GDP

46.2 percent (2018)


-0.3 percent (2019)

Government debt’s share of GDP

41.0 percent (2018)

External debt

US $ 2,897 million (2017)


West African Franc

Merchandise exports

US $ 2,216 million (2017)


US $ 3,066 million (2017)

Current account

– US $ 927 million (2017)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

58 percent (2018)

Main export goods

cotton, cashew nuts, textiles, oil palm products, seafood

Largest trading partner

India, China, France, Niger, Nigeria, USA, Malaysia



Severe floods hit Benin

Benin is affected by the most severe floods in more than 40 years. Large parts of the country are submerged and around 200,000 people are forced to leave their homes. Cholera erupts in the traces of the floods.


Benin celebrates 50 years of independence

1 August

Benin celebrates the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence from colonial power France.

Benin Economy Facts

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