Least Expensive Countries To Receive Imports Into

With little arable land to feed its urban population, low import costs make food affordable for Singaporean shoppers.
With little arable land to feed its urban population, low import costs make food affordable for Singaporean shoppers.

Importing is an important concept in the realm of international trade. Import involves receiving of goods and services from another country into the country of residence or intended market. Countries mainly import products and services to meet the deficit and demands that outweigh its production. Imports are sometimes considered a drag on the economy because of the cost implications. The value of Imports is influenced by country’s inflation rate, trade restrictions or quotas, domestic competition, exchange rate, the cost of transportation and demand for the import goods. Countries with trade restriction and higher tariffs on imports are likely to be very expensive to import into. However, some countries have made it easier and simpler to import into by eliminating some barriers and restrictions. Some of the countries that are least expensive to receive imports into include those discussed below.

East Timor

Importing goods into East Timor is considered cheap because of the minimal restrictions and the low charges levied on goods and services imported. A customs duty of 2.5% of the value of goods is charged while some goods do not attract excise duty, unlike most countries that charge excises duty on all imports. Some goods especially those that do not exceed $10 per shipment are also exempted from taxes. Compared to other countries a standard 20-foot container will cost less to import into East Timor and it costs $ 415 including taxes and customs to import such a container into East Timor.


Singapore does not impose quota restrictions on most of the imported goods. When importing into Singapore, one can apply for concessions such as Goods and Service Tax (GST) relief on some goods, but need to pay an exemption fee for the goods imported. Temporary imports for repairs or treatment are also exempted. Also, any import value below $400 is exempted from duties. The exemptions are friendly processes makes it cheaper to import goods into Singapore. It will only cost $440 to import a standard 20-foot container into Singapore. The cost includes all taxes, duty and clearing levy charges at the port or airport


Tonga’s economy is considered imbalanced because of the high value of imports and lower values of exports. Tonga mainly imports petroleum, meat, automobile parts and electric equipment. Tonga has capped tariffs on any imported product at a maximum of 20% while it offers duty-free for some import goods. Tonga is the third cheapest country to import into. It costs only $500 to import a 20-foot container that would cost more than $600 in Samoa.

Cost Considerations for End Consumers

Low costs of importing have a direct effect on the final cost of the product for the end consumer. Low cost of import translates to a low cost of the product imported into the country. Import goods in Tonga are relatively cheaper making them affordable for the low-income earners in the country. However, the low prices of the imported goods have led to price distortion with domestic producers earning marginally low incomes from their products. With the low cost of importing products into East Timor, the market has been flooded with products that are also produced locally. The supply in the market continues to be higher than demand. This surplus in the market has distorted the prices further. Cheap and fake goods have also found their way into the country where import cost is low thus the countries spend a lot on replacement and repairs of such products.

Least Expensive Countries To Receive Imports Into

RankCountryFees (USD) Levied on the Import of a Standard 20-foot Container
1East Timor$415
5Hong Kong$565
7Sao Tome and Principe$577

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