Bilateral economic relations with Africa and the Middle East
Bilateral Economic Relations with Sub-Saharan Africa
At € 2.28 billion, Austrian trade in goods with African states to the south of the Sahara made up about 0.56% of the country’s total trade volume, according to the final foreign trade figures by Statistics Austria for 2022, comparable to the importance of Taiwan and ranking 27th among Austria’s chief trading partners.
In 2022, Austria exported some € 1.33 billion to the region, an increase of 15.7% over 2021. The main export partner in 2022 was South Africa (€ 678 million), followed by Mali (€ 160 million) and Nigeria (€ 134 million).
In the same year, imports from the region into Austria were € 947 million, a decline of 4.0% against 2021. The key import markets in 2022 were South Africa (€ 753,5 million), Côte d’Ivoire (€ 35 million) and Mozambique (€ 23,5 million).
Study on top countries and megatrends in sub-Saharan Africa
There is considerable growth potential in the economic relations between Austria and Africa: in 2021, Austria exported about € 1.9 billion to Africa, corresponding to 1.1% of total Austrian exports and about the same level as the country’s exports to Sweden. The present situation further emphasises the importance of diversification in exports and thus a new focus on novel markets such as sub-Saharan Africa.
The countries of sub-Saharan Africa are among the world’s most dynamic economies. They proved to be highly resilient during the covid crisis, and their high rate of population growth, need to catch up in terms of consumption and infrastructure as well as rising aspirations by their growing middle classes all promise substantial potentials for business.
The study identifies these potentials, highlights options for the Federal Ministry of Labour and Economy to support Austrian enterprises in entering these markets and handling business in sub-Saharan Africa, and defines countries where such support will have the most promising impact.
Using a quantitative model, the study determined the following countries as priorities for Austria: Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenia, Ghana, Tanzania, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal – all countries that are marked by good economic development, relatively solid political stability, functioning institutions and acceptable business conditions.
Business opportunities abound in infrastructure, urbanisation, the health sector and the circular economy.
Link to the study Top Länder und Megatrends in Subsahara Afrika (PDF, 2 MB) (PDF, 2 MB) (BMAW, December 2022).
Study on digitalisation in the future markets of sub-Saharan Africa
Future markets such as sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are characterised by their rapid economic growth. In line with the Austrian foreign trade strategy, Austrian enterprises are to be supported in committing to these markets in order to maximise participation in the global upturn and bolster prosperity in Austria. Especially in times of global crises, diversifying markets outside the traditional export markets will improve the resilience of Austria’s economy.
Expedient updating of the ICT infrastructure and growing efforts by governments to create an efficient and functional institutional framework provide a strong impetus for digitalisation in sub-Saharan Africa. The study investigates the role of digital transformation in the SSA’s economies and the growth potentials resulting from digital solutions for Austrian companies, as well opportunities to better manage operative challenges.
According to the study’s findings, digitalisation generates opportunities from setting up the requisite infrastructure with regard to urbanisation and environmental protection, while at the same time new digital business models, such as pay-per-use or rent-instead-of-buy, create new channels for entering markets in places such as sub-Saharan Africa.
Moreover, digitalisation helps enterprises to better handle the challenging operative framework conditions in business with sub-Saharan Africa. Thanks to digitally based technologies, it is possible to increase efficiency in safe logistics, offer remote-maintenance solutions in the after-sales field and train workers by way of e-learning.
Currently, Austrian companies ignore many opportunities that would open up if they digitalised their SSA business. The study recommends a greater readiness to use digital methods in sub-Saharan Africa, in order to be better prepared to make use of their market opportunities.
Link to the study: Digitalisierung in den Zukunftsmärkten Subsahara Afrikas (PDF, 601 KB) (PDF, 601 KB) (BMDW, June 2020)
Bilateral economic relations with the states of Northern Africa and the Arab region
The MENA region (Middle East and Northern Africa) comprises Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen and Iran. In 2022, Austria traded goods to the tune of € 5.8 billion with these countries, a rise of 14.1% over 2021. The trade volume with the region makes up 1.4% of the total Austrian trade volume.
According to the final foreign trade data supplied by Statistics Austria for 2022, Austrian imports from the MENA region rose by 16,1% to € 2.9 billion. Exports grew by 12.2% to € 2.85 billion. Austria’s trade balance with the MENA region was therefore slightly negative in 2022.
In 2022, the main export destinations within the MENA region were Israel (€ 557 million), followed by the United Arab Emirates (€ 532 million) and Saudi Arabia (€ 481 million). The main import destinations were Libya (€ 732 million), Iraq (€ 571 million) and Algeria (€ 300 million).
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