Ethiopia’s exports in EFY l988/89 were primarily agricultural products (see table 14, below). The only significant nonagricultural exports were petroleum products such as heating oil, which had no use in Ethiopia, from the Aseb refinery.

The value of exports increased during the l980s, and by EFY l988/89 exports had almost twice the value they had in l973. However, the composition of exports had remained essentially the same, although the relative share of the various agricultural exports had changed. Coffee, the major export, still averaged about 63 percent of the value of exports during the five years ending in EFY l988/89. The relative share of oilseeds and pulses, however, had changed dramatically. Pulses and oilseeds, which accounted for about l5 percent and l9 percent, respectively, of the total value of exports in EFY 1974/75, dropped to l.9 and l.4 percent, respectively, of the total value of exports in EFY l988/89. Droughts, famines, the peasants’ preference for cereals and other staples, and the rising cost of producing pulses and oilseeds accounted for the decline in the export of these two products. Exports of livestock and livestock products averaged l8 percent of the value of exports for the five years ending in EFY l988/89, which was slightly higher than the prerevolution share of 16 percent.

After the l974 revolution, exports’ relative share of GDP declined, largely because domestic production grew more slowly than total demand. This could be attributed to the agricultural crisis associated with the country’s recurring droughts and famines and the dislocation of the farm economy resulting from the revolution. Total domestic production, measured by GDP, grew at an average annual rate of 0.9 percent per year during the 1980-87 period while exports declined at an average annual rate of 0.6 percent. During the same period, the population grew at an average 2.4 percent annual rate. Consequently, Ethiopia’s export share of 8 percent of GDP in EFY l988/89 was one of the world’s lowest.

The direction of Ethiopia’s post-1974 exports remained essentially the same as in the prerevolution period, despite the government’s change of policy and realignment with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. About 79 percent of Ethiopia’s exports went to Western countries, primarily the United States, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), and Japan. Ethiopia’s export trade with the Soviet Union, one of its major allies, was less than 4 percent in the five years ending in l987; prior to l974, the Soviet Union had accounted for less than 1 percent of Ethiopia’s imports. Beginning in 1979, Addis Ababa sought to encourage exports to the Soviet Union and other socialist countries by encouraging barter and countertrade. Ethiopia used this technique to market products such as spices, natural gums, some pulses, frozen meats, and handicraft items, which are not reliable hard-currency earners. In exchange, Ethiopia usually received consumer goods, industrial machinery, or construction machinery. Although reliable figures on the volume of barter and countertrade were unavailable, it appeared unlikely that the figure exceeded US$50 to US$55 million in any year.

Table 14. Value of Principal Exports, Selected Ethiopian Fiscal Years, 1974-75 to 1988- 891

(in millions of birr)2
Product 1974-75 1980-81 1984- 85 1985-86 1986-87 1987-88 1988- 893
Coffee 117.5 524.3 466.3 664.8 524.3 439.2 525.4
Oilseeds 89.1 28.4 15.6 7.9 9.8 22.0 12.8
Pulses 73.5 23.7 16.9 12.6 8.5 16.1 17.0
Hides and skins 37.2 92.7 95.4 119.5 108.3 133.0 140.0
Live animals 16.9 9.8 19.7 18.2 15.6 32.4 30.0
Meat, canned and frozen 9.9 6.3 3.9 3.9 5.4 5.1 5.4
Fruits and vegetables 9.8 3.6 5.9 6.0 12.8 11.8 15.6
Raw cotton 8.0 28.2 1.8 0.0 1.6 1.1 1.0
Petroleum products 7.4 76.1 67.3 44.2 27.3 36.0 30.6
Oilseed cake 7.2 8.8 1.0 2.0 1.7 1.1 1.0
Sugar4 6.8 9.8 9.3 10.4 12.6 16.4 16.5
Other5 62.0 39.4 40.2 33.8 66.9 59.4 106.8
Reexports 30.9 0.4 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 n.a.
TOTAL 476.2 851.5 743.3 923.8 794.8 773.6 902.1

n.a.–not available.
1 For explanation of the Ethiopian fiscal year–see Glossary.
2 For value of the birr–see Glossary.
3 Estimated.
4 Primarily molasses.
5 Includes 26.7 million birr of nonmonetary gold in 1979-80.

Source: Based on information from National Bank of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, various publications.


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