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Nigeria’s total trade (value of exports and imports) hits N8.24 trillion in the first quarter of 2019, up from 8.03 trillion recorded in the previous quarter. According to the latest foreign trade report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), this means Nigeria’s total trade rose by 2.5% within the quarter.

The NBS report further shows that the value of total imports rose by 3.39% in Q1 2019, when compared to 14% decline recorded Q4 2018. Nigeria’s imports also increased by 25.84% over the corresponding quarter of 2018.

Similarly, the value of total exports in the first quarter increased by 1.78% against the level recorded in the previous quarter. It, however, decreased by 3.90% against its corresponding quarter value of 2018.

Breakdown of Nigeria’s trade 

For the period (Q1 2019), Nigeria’s exported goods worth of N4.54 trillion within the first quarter of the year, up from N4.45 trillion recorded in the last quarter, this implies that total exports inched up 1.78%. Further analysis shows that Nigeria’s export improved in the quarter when compared to the contraction witnessed during the last quarter of 2018.

On the other hand, Nigeria imported goods worth of N3.70 trillion during the first quarter of the year, this specifically, suggests that the country’s import base expanded after the recent 14% contraction at the end of 2018.

Also, Nigeria’s trade balance which measures total exports minus import shows trade balance surplus with N831.6 billion, this was boosted by an increase in both exports and imports. What this means is that Nigeria exported more than it imported during the trading period. According to the Bureau’s data, Nigeria’s export contributes 59.17% to total trade in the quarter.

Trends of Nigeria’s imports, exports and total trade in the last 5-quarters

Changes were also recorded in other trade categories in the first quarter:

  • Trade balance inched up by 4.8% with an estimated value of 831.6 billion
  • Crude oil export traded was estimated at N3.37 trillion, a 7% decline from N3.66 trillion in the previous quarter
  • Non-crude oil exports rose by 45%, with an estimated value of N1.15 trillion
  • Non-oil export increased by 159% in the quarter with total export goods worth N604.4 billion, from N232 billion in the last quarter.
  • Crude oil exports accounted for 74.94% of total trade
  • Non-oil export accounted for just 12.89%.

Furthers details on imports and exports

Analysis of trade data shows that Nigeria’s imports stood at N3.70 trillion, out of which Machinery & transport equipment was the highest with N1.50 trillion (40.66%) of total imports.

  • Manufactured goods accounted for N841.3 billion or 22.72%
  • Chemical and related products amounted to for N403.4 billion or 10.89%
  • Other major imports were food and live animals amounted to N353.0billion or 9.53%
  • Mineral fuel which amounted to N346.2billion or 9.35% during the period under review.

In terms of exports, Nigeria’s export trade was dominated by crude oil exports, which contributed N3.37 trillion or 74.45% to the value of total exports in Q1, 2019.

  • Nigeria exported mainly mineral products which amounted to N3.95 trillion or 87.1% of the total value of exports.
  • Vehicles, aircraft and parts accounted for N55.4 billion or 1.2%
  • Prepared foodstuff, beverages, spirits accounted for N418 billion or 9.22%
  • Vegetable products respectively accounted for N49.0 billion or 1.1% of the total export

Top trading partners – Exports and Imports

In Q1 2019, by country of destination, Nigeria exported goods mainly to India, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa and France. Across regions, Nigeria exported most products to Europe, Asia, Africa, Americas and Oceania.


Within Africa, Nigeria exported goods valued at N300.6 billion to ECOWAS member states (representing 32.08% % of total merchandise exports to Africa).

Top Nigeria’s export nations:

  • India 16.43%
  • Spain 10.74%
  • Netherlands 8.94%
  • South Africa 7.18%
  • France 6.67%

During the quarter, imported products originated from Asia, Europe, and Africa. Analysis of regional trade flows further shows that import trade with the Americas accounted for N493 billion or 13.3%, while Oceania accounted for N18.2 billion or 0.5%.

Within the African continent, trade with the ECOWAS subregion amounted to N27.7 billion of total import trade.

Also, imports by country of origin shows that Nigeria imported goods worth N979.30 billion or 26.44% from China. Notably, goods worth N528.89 billion or 14.28% of total imports was imported from Swaziland during the quarter.

This significant volume of import was a result of the importation of a laboratory, hygienic or pharmaceutical glassware for humanitarian purposes, leading to Swaziland appearing for the first time among Nigeria’s top five trading partners in terms of imports.


Other major trading partners during the quarter were the United States, India and the Netherlands. 

Major imports trading partners 

  • China 26.4%
  • Swaziland 14.3%
  • United States 8.8%
  • India 6.6%
  • Netherlands 4.1%

What all this implies – From the trade data, it shows that businesses thrived in the country within the first quarter of 2019, as industries exported more goods than imports recorded. This means more revenue for key units in the economy. However, the larger chunk of the revenue from the trade surplus still belongs to investors in the Nigerian Oil Sector.



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