Foreign trade accounts for 60% of the GDP of Madagascar, a country which collects a large part of its income in the form of tariffs, import taxes and VAT on imports. Madagascar is the 132nd exporting economy in the world and the 136th importer. The country is a member of the WTO and COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and does not have significant non-tariff barriers. In addition, most products can be imported without an import license. The country mainly exports vanilla (21.7%), raw nickel (16.8%), clothing (4.4%), cobalt mattes (3.8%) and crustaceans (3.8%) %). Its main imports are petroleum oils (14.3%), motor vehicles (4%), rice (3.3%), medicines (2.9%) and wheat flour (1.8% ).
Madagascar’s main customers are France (20.2% of total exports), the United States, China, Japan and Germany. Its main suppliers are China (17.5% of total imports), France, the United Arab Emirates, India and South Africa. Despite its abundant resources, Madagascar still struggles to channel its commercial income towards further development. Like other island states, Madagascar faces high transportation costs. The lack of well-developed infrastructure makes business transactions expensive, which undermines the competitiveness of the private sector. However, the country aims to improve logistics at major ports and airports in order to improve trade. While the European Union is by far the largest customer of Malagasy products, exports to member states of the North American Free Trade Agreement received a huge boost in 2017 following the US decision. United to reintegrate Madagascar into its trade preferences program (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act).