Benin Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

The free market economy of Benin has grown consecutively for four years, though growth slowed in 2017, as its close trade links to Nigeria expose Benin to risks from volatile commodity prices. Cotton is a key export commodity, with export earnings significantly impacted by the price of cotton in the broader market. The economy began deflating in 2017, with the consumer price index falling 0.8%.

During the first two years of President TALON’s administration, which began in April 2016, the government has followed an ambitious action plan to kickstart development through investments in infrastructure, education, agriculture, and governance. Electricity generation, which has constrained Benin’s economic growth, has increased and blackouts have been considerably reduced. Private foreign direct investment is small, and foreign aid accounts for a large proportion of investment in infrastructure projects.

Benin has appealed for international assistance to mitigate piracy against commercial shipping in its territory, and has used equipment from donors effectively against such piracy. Pilferage has significantly dropped at the Port of Cotonou, though the port is still struggling with effective implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. Projects included in Benin's $307 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) first compact (2006-11) were designed to increase investment and private sector activity by improving key institutional and physical infrastructure. The four projects focused on access to land, access to financial services, access to justice, and access to markets (including modernization of the port). The Port of Cotonou is a major contributor to Benin’s economy, with revenues projected to account for more than 40% of Benin’s national budget.

Benin will need further efforts to upgrade infrastructure, stem corruption, and expand access to foreign markets to achieve its potential. In September 2015, Benin signed a second MCC Compact for $375 million that entered into force in June 2017 and is designed to strengthen the national utility service provider, attract private sector investment, fund infrastructure investments in electricity generation and distribution, and develop off-grid electrification for poor and unserved households. As part of the Government of Benin’s action plan to spur growth, Benin passed public private partnership legislation in 2017 to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, encourage new information and communication technology, and establish Independent Power Producers. In April 2017, the IMF approved a three year $150.4 million Extended Credit Facility agreement to maintain debt sustainability and boost donor confidence.

Real GDP growth rate

5.6% (2017 est.)

4% (2016 est.)

2.1% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 33

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

-0.8% (2019 est.)

1.7% (2018 est.)

0% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B (2019)

Moody's rating: B2 (2019)

Standard & Poors rating: B+ (2018)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$38.794 billion (2019 est.)

$36.301 billion (2018 est.)

$34.023 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 127

GDP (official exchange rate)

$10.315 billion (2018 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$3,287 (2019 est.)

$3,161 (2018 est.)

$3,045 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 195

Gross national saving

19.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

19.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

17.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 108

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 26.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 22.8% (2017 est.)

services: 51.1% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 70.5% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 13.1% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 27.6% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 31.6% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -43% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 52.4 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 90.6 (2020)

Trading score: 68.9 (2020)

Enforcement score: 41.5 (2020)

Agricultural products

cassava, yams, maize, cotton, oil palm fruit, rice, pineapples, tomatoes, vegetables, soybeans


textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement

Industrial production growth rate

3% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 101

Labor force

3.662 million (2007 est.)

country comparison to the world: 97

Unemployment rate

1% (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Population below poverty line

38.5% (2019 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

47.8 (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 20

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.1%

highest 10%: 29% (2003)


revenues: 1.578 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 2.152 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

17.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 171

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-6.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 186

Public debt

54.6% of GDP (2017 est.)

49.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 81

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$1.024 billion (2017 est.)

-$808 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 147


$3.056 billion (2018 est.)

$2.726 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 135

Exports - partners

Nigeria 25%, Bangladesh 14%, United Arab Emirates 14%, India 13%, China 8%, Vietnam 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

cotton, refined petroleum, gold, cashews, copper (2019)


$5.458 billion (2019 est.)

$5.279 billion (2018 est.)

$5.035 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 134

Imports - partners

China 28%, Thailand 9%, India 8%, Togo 6%, United States 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

rice, cars, palm oil, electricity, cotton (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$698.9 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$57.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 141

Debt - external

$2.804 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$2.476 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 145

Exchange rates

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -

605.3 (2017 est.)

593.01 (2016 est.)

593.01 (2015 est.)

591.45 (2014 est.)

494.42 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Benin on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Benin 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Benin 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.