Angola - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview

Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, and other issues that affect trade.

Last published date: 2021-09-08

Angola is a lower middle-income country located in southern Africa with a Gross Domestic Product of USD 61.4 billion, a population of 32.9 million and a per capita income of USD 3,103.5.  It is ranked as the eighth largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Angola is a major oil producing country and OPEC member with output of around 1.3 million barrels of oil per day, making it the second largest producer in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The country holds significant proven gas reserves as well as extensive mineral resources.  Since 2016, Angola has experienced  negative economic growth as a result of declining oil production and oil price.  Resulting national budget cuts, currency devaluations and high inflation levels have slowed import levels and hindered economic growth.  The economy contracted by an estimated four percent in 2020 and is projected to grow by 0.4 percent in 2021, according to IMF projections.

Angola achieved its independence from Portugal in 1975, then immediately entered into a civil war that ended only in 2002.  Under the 2010 constitution, the country held its second Presidential election on August 23, 2017 electing Joao Lourenço from the MPLA party as the President of Angola.  He was preceded by former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, also a member of the MPLA, who had held power since 1979. The election represented a stable democratic transition.  Angola is designated as one of the United States’ three strategic partners in sub-Saharan Africa, together with Nigeria and South Africa.

Angola depends largely on the off-shore petroleum industry for 50 percent of its GDP, 65 percent of budget revenues and 97 percent of exports.   Major international oil production companies active in Angola include:  Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, ENI and Total.  Angolan exports to the U.S. consist primarily of petroleum, with modest shipments of diamonds and wood.  Given the country’s stated focus on diversifying its economy and building domestic production capacity, medium-term potential for U.S. companies exists in agriculture, industry, mineral exploration and key infrastructure such as energy, water and transportation.

Total Angolan imports in 2020 are estimated at USD 17 billion, a 23.75 percent decrease from 2019[1].  U.S. exports to Angola decreased by 12 percent between 2019 and 2020 to USD 470 million.  Angola remains the United States’ third largest export market in sub-Saharan Africa.  Aircraft and parts, chemical products, energy generation equipment, machinery, meat, and oil and gas equipment were the main categories of U.S. exports to Angola in 2020.  Leading countries supplying Angola’s imports in 2019 were China (24 percent), Portugal (16 percent), Belgium (6.4 percent), United States (6.2 percent), and South Africa (5.3 percent).

Angola exported USD 22 billion to world markets in 2020, a decrease in value of 37.5 percent from 2018[2], largely due to a drop in oil prices due to decreased demand caused in part by the pandemic.  Exports consisted primarily of petroleum with modest shipments of diamonds and wood.  The U.S. imported USD 471.1 million in Angolan products in 2020, down 50.6  percent with over 90 percent petroleum products followed by 7 percent diamonds, minerals, and ore.

Leading reasons to consider the Angolan market for U.S. export expansion include:

  • Angola represents a large market, with a population of 32.9 million and a GDP of USD 61.4 billion. Despite the current economic downturn, Angola is the eighth largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, so it is a logical next market for U.S. companies active in other countries in the region.
  • Angola imports most products due to its very low capacity to produce locally.  While an effort is underway to build domestic production capacities, it will require many years and depend on international suppliers of key inputs for infrastructure, manufacturing and agricultural development, thus driving demand for imports.
  • Angolan government and industry leaders exhibit strong interest in the United States.   Angolan private companies are eager to engage directly with U.S. companies and gain exposure to U.S. equipment, technologies and solutions related to priority economic sectors.
  • Angola lacks conflict and has long had a strong central government, though the current economic crisis has triggered an upswing in economically motivated crime.
  • The U.S. Commercial Service Angola, at the U.S. Embassy in Angola  is available to assist U.S. companies  understand the business environment and find local partners and sales opportunities.
  • Under President Lourenco, the Government of Angola has taken steps to engage in economic reform, including privatizing State-Owned EnterpriseAs (SOEs), prioritizing efforts to combat corruption, and increasing engagement with the U.S. government and private sector on commercial issues.
  • Angola benefits from eligibility from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), through which it is able to export over 6,000 qualifying goods to the United States duty-free. Oil is currently the primary export from Angola to the United States under AGOA. However, as Angola works to diversify its economy AGOA may provide opportunity in a number of sectors.

[1] Global Trade Atlas, UN Comtrade Database

[2] Global Trade Atlas