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Nigeria’s foreign trade statistics report for the first quarter of 2024 reveals a significant trade surplus of N6.52 trillion.
This is a significant recovery from the N1.41 trillion trade deficit recorded in the previous quarter (Q4 2023) and the N927.2 billion in the same period (Q1) of 2023.
The trade surplus recorded for Q1 2024 is a record high, according to data dating back to 2009
The closest was N5.74 trillion recorded in Q4 2011, according to available data.
The report, published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), highlights an impressive economic performance, driven by a substantial increase in exports.
The record data is also fueled by exchange rate depreciation which means the trade surplus when converted to Naira will be higher than in any other period in history.
Export performance
According to the NBS report, total exports for Q1 2024 were valued at N19.17 trillion, representing a 51.00% increase from the previous quarter’s N12.69 trillion and a 195.47% rise from N6.49 trillion recorded in Q1 2023.
France emerged as the leading destination for Nigerian exports, accounting for 11.09% of the total export value, followed by Spain (10.56%), the Netherlands (8.85%), India (8.41%), and the United States (6.84%).
Major export commodities included crude oil, liquefied natural gas, sesamum seeds, urea, and superior-quality cocoa beans.
Crude oil exports, which constituted 80.80% of total exports, were valued at N15.49 trillion. This marks a 50.20% increase from N10.31 trillion in Q4 2023 and a remarkable 200.79% rise from N5.15 trillion in Q1 2023.
Agricultural exports also saw significant growth, amounting to N1.04 trillion, up by 123.08% from N463.97 billion in Q4 2023 and by 270.13% from N279.64 billion in Q1 2023.
Import Performance
The NBS report indicates that total imports for Q1 2024 stood at N12.64 trillion. This reflects a 39.65% increase from N9.05 trillion in Q4 2023 and a 95.53% rise from N6.47 trillion in Q1 2023.
China was Nigeria’s top trading partner on the import side, contributing 23.18% to the total imports. Other significant import partners included India (8.46%), the United States (7.98%), Belgium (7.56%), and the Netherlands (4.68%).
Key imported commodities included motor spirit ordinary, gas oil, durum wheat, cane sugar meant for sugar refinery, and other liquefied petroleum gases.
Agricultural goods imports were valued at N920.54 billion, reflecting a 29.45% increase compared to N711.14 billion in Q4 2023 and a 95.28% rise compared to N471.39 billion in Q1 2023.
Raw material imports stood at N1.47 trillion, a 51.78% increase from N966.80 billion in Q4 2023 and a 164.18% rise from N555.47 billion in Q1 2023.
Top Export Partners
France was Nigeria’s largest export partner in Q1 2024, accounting for 11.09% of total exports. The trade relationship between the two countries has been bolstered by France’s demand for Nigerian crude oil and liquefied natural gas, which are the primary exports to the European nation.
Spain followed closely, representing 10.56% of Nigeria’s total exports. Similar to France, Spain’s imports from Nigeria largely consist of crude oil and liquefied natural gas, underlining the strong energy trade ties between Nigeria and the European Union.
With 8.85% of Nigeria’s total exports, the Netherlands is another key European trading partner. The country’s significant import of Nigerian crude oil and agricultural products like cocoa beans affirms its strategic trade relationship with Nigeria.
India accounted for 8.41% of Nigeria’s total exports. The trade with India is heavily dominated by crude oil, which forms the backbone of the bilateral trade relationship. Additionally, India imports agricultural products such as sesamum seeds from Nigeria.
The United States was responsible for 6.84% of Nigeria’s total exports in Q1 2024. The trade relationship primarily revolves around the export of crude oil and other energy products, alongside agricultural commodities.
Top Import Partners
China was Nigeria’s top import partner in Q1 2024, contributing 23.18% to the total imports. The imports from China primarily include machinery, transport equipment, and various manufactured goods, reflecting the strong industrial and technological ties between the two countries.
India accounted for 8.46% of Nigeria’s total imports. The trade with India involves the import of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and industrial machinery, showcasing a diversified trade portfolio.
The United States contributed 7.98% to Nigeria’s total imports. Major imports from the U.S. include machinery, transport equipment, and agricultural products, reflecting a broad spectrum of trade activities.
Belgium was responsible for 7.56% of Nigeria’s total imports. The country’s exports to Nigeria are dominated by machinery, chemical products, and various manufactured goods.
With a 4.68% share of total imports, the Netherlands is a significant trading partner for Nigeria. The imports primarily consist of chemical products, machinery, and transport equipment.
Trade by Mode of Transport
Maritime transport was the primary mode of transport for Nigeria’s trade activities. For exports, maritime transport accounted for N19.02 trillion, representing 99.25% of total exports.
This shows the importance of Nigeria’s ports and shipping infrastructure in facilitating the bulk of the country’s international trade.
On the import side, maritime transport was used for goods valued at N11.91 trillion, making up 94.17% of total imports.
The reliance on maritime transport is indicative of the volume and bulk of goods traded, which typically include heavy and large consignments like crude oil, machinery, and industrial equipment.
Air transport played a minor role in Nigeria’s trade, accounting for N55.32 billion or 0.29% of total exports. For imports, air transport was used for goods valued at N707.56 billion, representing 5.60% of total imports.
The use of air transport is typically reserved for high-value, low-bulk goods such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, and perishable items that require quick delivery.
Road transport accounted for N30.20 billion or 0.16% of total exports and N30.11 billion or 0.24% of total imports.
While the volume is relatively small compared to maritime and air transport, road transport is crucial for regional trade within the ECOWAS subregion and neighboring countries, facilitating the movement of goods across land borders.
Other modes of transport, including rail and inland waterways, accounted for N58.65 billion or 0.31% of total exports. This category is indicative of Nigeria’s ongoing efforts to diversify its transport infrastructure to enhance trade efficiency.

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Boluwatife Olu-Kings Ayobami

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