Nigeria's Merchandise Trade Slowed in Q1 2020 Due to Declines in Both Imports and Exports


Tuesday, June 09, 2020  11:20 AM / NBS/ Header Image Credit:  NBS

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Key Highlight


Total Trade

  • Total trade declined 17.94% in Q1,2020 compared to the value recorded in Q4,2019 but increased marginally by 0.80% year on year.


  • The value of total imports decreased by 21.08% in Q1, 2020 compared to the value recorded in Q4,2019 but was 13.99% higher when compared with Q1, 2019
  • The value of imported Agricultural goods was 12.02% more in Q1 2020 than in Q4, 2019 and 10.62% more than Q1, 2019.
  • The value of raw material imports decreased by 8.49% in Q1,2020 relative to Q4 2019, and 6.91% compared to the corresponding quarter in 2019.
  • The value of solid minerals imports was 15.65% higher in Q1,2020 than the preceding quarter and 20.05% compared to the corresponding quarter in 2019.
  • The value of manufactured goods imports decreased by 31.98% in Q1,2020 compared to Q4 2019, and 4.03% when compared with Q1,2019.
  • The value of energy goods decreased by 72.18% in Q1,2020 on a quarter on quarter basis, and 91.58% year on year.  
  • The value of other oil products imports was 14.21% higher in Q1, 2020 than in Q4, 2019 and 180.05% higher when compared with the corresponding quarter of 2019.



  • Total export value decreased 14.42% in Q1,2020 compared to the value recorded in Q4,2019 and 9.98% compared to Q1,2019.
  •   The value of Agricultural goods exports grew 85.36% in Q1,2020 compared to Q4,2019 and 46.76% compared to Q1, 2019.
  • The value of Raw material exports increased 60.17% in Q1,2020 relative to last quarter but decreased by 7.08% year on year.
  • The value of Solid minerals exports was 16.31% lower in Q1,2020 relative to Q4 2019 and 82.17% less than the value recorded in Q1, 2019.
  • Manufactured goods exports decreased by 12.72% in value in Q1,2020 compared to Q4,2019 and 3.86% compared to Q1, 2019.
  • Crude oil exports decreased by 18.86% in Q1, 2020 compared to Q4, 2019 and 12.80% compared to Q1, 2019.
  • Other oil products export decreased by 1.47% in value in Q1,2020 compared to Q4, 2019 and 4.89% compared to Q1, 2019.
  • Energy goods exports were 16.76% lower in Q1, 2020 than the value recorded in Q4,2019 and 53.05% lower than the value recorded in Q1, 2019.

Major export trading partners and percentage share in q1, 2020 export trade.








South Africa










 Major import trading partners and percentage share in q1, 2020 import trade






United States







Major Traded Agricultural Products.


Sesamum seeds, whether or not broken

Good fermented cocoa beans

Superior quality raw cocoa beans

Natural cocoa butter

Cashew nuts, in shell

Cashew nuts, shelled


Other frozen shrimps and prawns

Nigerian cotton lint

 Other flours and meal of oil seeds or oleaginous fruit, other than those of mustard




The value of Nigeria's total trade stood at N8,304.8billion in Q1,2020.This was 17.94% lower than the value  recorded in Q4, 2019 but 0.80% higher than the value recorded in Q1,2019.The import component of this trade was valued at N4,221.9billion or 50.8%  while the export component totaled N4,082.9 billion indicating 49.2% of the total trade. A trade deficit of N138.98billion was recorded during the quarter, marking two consecutive quarters of negative balance of trade, as the value of imports surpassed exports. It is worth noting that the consecutive quarters of negative trade balances (and lower imports and exports) occurred against the backdrop of a global slowdown in economic activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global health crisis resulted in several countries implementing varying degrees of restrictions with respect to international trade, travel and tourism. When compared with the preceding quarter, the deficit in Q1 2020 represented an improvement by 76%. On a year -on-year basis however, the deficit was lower by 116.71%.

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Crude oil, Nigeria's dominant export, accounted for N2,944.6billion representing 72.12% of total exports in Q1,2020. The value of crude oil export was 18.86% less than the value recorded in Q4, 2019 and 12.80% lower than the value recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2019. Non crude oil exports was valued at N1,138.3billion representing 27.9% of total exports during the period under review.

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Imports Classified by Standard International Trade Classification and country of Origin

Total imports stood at N4,221.9 billion indicating a decline  of 21.08% in Q1, 2020 over the value recorded in Q4, 2019, but an increase of 13.99% when compared with Q1, 2019.

The drop in the value of imports in Q1,2020 can be attributed to decreases in the value  of Machinery and transport equipment (N1,746.0 billion) which represents 35.5% less than (N2,708.98) recorded in Q4 2019.Chemicals and related products (N398.7billion) representing a decrease of 30.5% over (N573.98billion) recorded in  Q4,2019 and crude inedible materials (N43.5 billion) representing 22.2% less than ( N55.9billion) recorded in Q4,2019.

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During the quarter, Nigeria imported goods mainly from Asia, which was valued at N1,966.5 billion or 46.58%. Other major imports originated from Europe, valued at N1,534.7billion or 36.35% while imports from America and Africa amounted to N580.2billion or 13.74% and N118.95billion or 2.82% respectively. Import from Oceania stood at N21.6billion or 0.51% while goods valued at N28.3billion originated from ECOWAS.

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Nigeria's imports, by country of origin, shows goods were imported mainly from China (N1,109.46billion or 26.28%), Netherlands (N470.11billion or 11.14%), United States (N441.06 billion or 10.45%), India (N334.53 or 7.92%) and Belgium (N257.89 or 6.11%).

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Exports Classified by Standard International Trade Classification and Country of Destination


The value of total exports in Q1, 2020 stood at N4,082.9billion. This indicates a decrease of 14.42% relative to Q4,2019 and 9.98% compared to the value recorded in Q1,2019.

Exports by section revealed that mineral products accounted for the largest proportion of exports, amounting to N3,478.1 billion or 85.2%. This was due to the crude oil component of this section. The next major section was Vehicles aircraft and parts which amounted to N406.3billion or 9.95% of total exports.


Analysis of trade by region revealed that Nigeria exported most products to Europe (N1,569.21billion or 38.43% of total exports), followed by Asia (N1,277.21billion or 31.28%), Africa (N978.21billion or 23.96%), America (N214.12billion or 5.24%) and Oceania (N44.14billion or 1.08%). Within Africa, goods worth N296.3 billion was exported to ECOWAS member states.

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Exports by country of destination showed that Nigeria exported goods to India valued at (N637.5billion or 15.61%), Spain (N402.9billion or 9.87%), The Netherlands (N396.9billion or 9.72%), South Africa (N319.5 billion or 7.82%) and Cameroon (N301.8billion or 7.39%).

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Export/Imports Products Classified by Sectors Q1, 2020

Agricultural Goods Sector

During the quarter, total trade in Agricultural goods stood at N387.7billion (or 4.67% of the overall trade), of which exported agricultural goods accounted for N126.3billion. Analysis by economic region showed that most Agricultural goods were exported to Asia and Europe, valued at N66.9billion or 52.98% and N52.7billion or 41.68% respectively.  The key drivers of agricultural products exports were Sesamum seeds whether or not broken (N49.1billion), Good fermented Nigerian Cocoa beans (N35.2billion) and Superior quality cocoa beans (N16.8billion). Sesamum seeds worth N9.8billion, N9.5 billion and N9.3billion were exported to Japan, Turkey and China respectively, while Good fermented cocoa beans were exported mainly to The Netherlands (valued at N16.5billion) and Germany (valued at N6.6billion). Superior raw Cocoa beans was also exported mainly to The Netherlands at a value of N11.2billion.


In terms of imports, Nigeria imported Agricultural goods worth N261.4billion in Q1, 2020. Sectoral imports by region, showed that the country imported most Agricultural goods from Europe (N125.2billion or 47.9%), America (N85.2billion or 32.6%) and Asia (N40billion or 15.3%). The major products imported during the quarter were Durum wheat (not in seeds). This was imported from the United States, Latvia, Canada and Argentina valued at N25.9 billion, N22.6billion, N15.2 billion and N13.98billion. Further, Durum wheat (seed) was imported from the United States (valued at N8.95billion), Russia (N5.9billion) and Lithuania (N5.5billion).

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Solid Minerals Sector

The total trade in solid mineral goods stood at N22.98 billion in Q1, 2020, comprising an import component of N21.4 billion and export component of N1.6billion. The major products exported under this sector were Zinc ores and concentrates exported to China (valued at N0.7billion) and Belgium (N0.3billion). This was followed by lead ores and concentrates exported to China, worth N0.4billion.

In terms of imports, plasters of Calcined Gypsum was mainly imported from Turkey in the value worth N2.3 billion, Other, including crude salt was imported from Brazil, worth N3.0 billion. Denatured salt was imported from Namibia, worth N2.6billion and Gypsum from Spain (N2.9billion) and Turkey (N1.4billion). In terms of the trade relationship with regions of the world, solid minerals was imported from all regions: Asia (N6.2billion), Africa (N5.1billion), Europe (N4.5billion), America (N4.2billion) and Oceania (N1.4billion).


Manufactured Goods Sector

The value of manufactured goods trade in Q1, 2020 stood at N3,105.7billion or 37.40%. Of this, the   export component accounted for N444.5 billion. The products that drove up Manufactured exports were Vessels and other floating Structures exported to Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea, worth N300.7billion and N57.9billion respectively. Helicopters of an unladen weight was exported to Ghana, worth N33.2billion. Export trade on manufactured goods by region showed that manufactured goods were mainly exported within the continent of Africa (N414.4billion), to Europe (N14.7billion) and Asia (N13.8 billion).

On the other hand, manufactured imports stood at N2,661.3billion. The main drivers were Used Vehicles imported from the United States, worth N123.7billion. Used vehicles were also imported from Italy (at N5.8billion) and Belgium (worth N4.4billion.). Other imported manufactured goods include motorcycles from India (N93.97billion) and China (N44.8billion). During Q1, 2020, Unused postage was imported from the United Arab Emirates (N65.4billion), and the United States (N65.3billion), while Automatic Rifles and Carbines worth N51.97billion were imported from China. Import trade by region showed that manufactured goods were mainly imported from Asia (N1,683.9 billion), Europe (N489.9 billion) and America (N413.2billion)


Raw Material Goods Sector

The value of total trade in raw material stood at N341.1billion. The import component was valued at N307.3billion while the export component stood at N33.8billion. During the quarter, Urea worth N10.5billion and N5.4 billion were exported to Brazil and Uruguay. Technically specified natural rubber, worth N1.0 billion, was exported to Spain. Leather further prepared after tanning, valued at N2.2billion, was also exported to Spain.

In terms of imports, Cane sugar meant for sugar refinery worth N 44.3 billion was imported from Brazil, Milk preparation worth N7.4 billion from Ireland, N3.8 billion from Malaysia and N2.2billion from Australia were also imported. Other products were mixtures of Odoriferous substances worth N9.5billion from Ireland and N2.0billion from Swaziland. Mixed alkylbenzenes worth N11.4 billion was imported from Spain and other Glutamic acid worth N3.3billion were imported from China.


Trade Intensity in Q1 2020

Export Intensity Index with Five Major Trading Partners

The export intensities of Nigeria in Q1, 2020 showed Nigeria had a strong export relationship with India, with export intensities of 6.97, 8.54 and 7.38 for January, February and March respectively. For the European trading partners, intensity was relatively weaker. For example, export intensity with Spain in all the months was recorded at 4.66, 4.14 and 5.79 respectively. Similarly, the bilateral trade flow between Nigeria and Netherlands was reflected by the export intensities of 2.53, 1.83 and 1.73. Italy recorded index greater than one in January (1.19) and February (1.59), but this slowed in March, when the intensity index recorded 0.62. For France, there was a low index in January (0.98) while February and March registered index greater than 1.

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Import Intensity Index with five Major Trading Partners

During the quarter, the import intensity of Nigeria with China was greater than 1, as reflected in January (1.22), February (1.45) and March (2.37). Similarly, Netherlands registered higher import intensities of 3.64 in Jan, slowing to 2.53 in February but weak import intensity in March (0.47). The next leading import partner were the United States and India. While the import intensity with the US remained fairly stable through January (1.02), February (1.0) and March (1.08), India's strengthened over the same period, recording 3.21, 3.92 and 5.08 for January, February and March respectively. Like the Netherlands, Belgium registered similar trend in import intensities in January (3.52), February  (1.69) and  (0.56) in  March.

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Trade by Mode of Transport

The majority of commodity exported out of Nigeria were transported via water. This was reflected in the value of exports by water in Q1,2020. Water transport accounted for N4,040.1 billion or 98.95% of total exports. Air transport contributed N42.6 billion and Road transport contributed N0.2billion. Similarly, for imports most goods brought into the country arrived via water transportation means. Water transport accounted for N3,763.7billion or 89.1% of the value of total imports. Goods imported by Air were N429.8billion or 10.2% while Road transport attracted goods valued at N28.3 billion respectively.


Trade by Custom Ports and Post

In Q1 2020, the bulk of export transactions was conducted through Apapa port, valued at N3,578.4billion or 87.6% of total exports, followed by Port Harcourt (3) which recorded N355.7billion or 8.7%, and Tin Can Island which recorded N96.9billion or 2.4%. In terms of imports, Apapa port also recorded the highest transactions valued at N2,062.99billion or 48.9% of total imports. This was followed by Tin Can Island N745.1billion or 17.7%, while Port Harcourt (3) was valued at N297.1billion or 7%.


Click Here to Download Q1 2020 Foreign Trade PDF Report

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Latest 2020 NBS Reports

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Q2 2020

  1. 11,072 Road Traffic Crashes Occurred in 2019 - NBS
  2. FAAC Disburses N780.93bn in April 2020 - NBS
  3. FAAC Disburses N581.57bn in March 2020 - NBS
  4. Average Price of 1kg of Rice Increased MoM By 7.56% in April 2020 - NBS
  5. Average Air Passengers Fare Was Flat MoM in April 2020 - NBS
  6. Total Value of Capital Importation into Nigeria Stood At $5,854.38m in Q1 2020 - NBS
  7. Nigeria's GDP Grew By 1.87% YoY in Real Terms in Q1 2020
  8. Average Prices of PMS, AGO, HHK and Cooking Gas - April 2020
  9. N1.33trn Generated As IGR in 2019 - NBS
  10. Headline Inflation Increases By 12.34% YoY In April 2020; 0.08% Higher Than March 2020 Rate
  11. 20.89bn Litres of PMS Imported Into Nigeria in 2019 - NBS
  12. N338.94bn Generated As VAT in Q1 2020 - NBS
  13. Total Household Expenditure on Food and Non-food Was Put At N40.21bn in 2019 - NBS
  14. Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria 2019: 40% of Total Population Classified as Poor
  15. GDP By Income and Expenditure Approach Q4 2019 - Household Final Consumption Declined by -2.40%
  16. Average Price of 1kg of Rice Increased By 21% YoY to N438.66 In March 2020
  17. Average Transport Fare Paid By Commuters Within City Increased By 1.89% MoM in March 2020
  18. Average Prices of PMS, AGO, HHK and Cooking Gas - March 2020
  19. Headline Inflation Increases By 12.26% YoY In March 2020; 0.06% Higher Than February 2020 Rate
  20. Nigeria's Total Public Debt Stood At N27.40trn in Q4 2019 - NBS
  21. FAAC Disburses N647.35bn in February 2020 - NBS

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Q1 2020

  1. Banking Sector Records 893.68m Volume of Transaction in Q4 2019 - NBS
  2. Active Voice Subscription Grew By 3.08% in Q4 2019 - NBS
  3. All Commodity Group Import Index Fell by 3.27% Due Mainly to Declines in the Prices of Goods
  4. Average Prices of 1kg of Tomato Decreased By -10.65% YoY to N237.22 in Jan 2020 - NBS
  5. Average Fare Paid By Commuters For Bus Journey Intercity Increased By 0.91% MoM in February 2020
  6. Average Prices Of PMS, AGO, HHK and Cooking Gas - February 2020
  7. Headline Inflation Increases By 12.20% YoY In February 2020; 0.07% Higher Than January 2020 Rate
  8. FAAC Disburses N716.30bn in January 2020 - NBS
  9. FAAC Disburses N2.93trn to FG in 2019 - NBS
  10. Total Value of Capital Imported in Q4 2019 Stood At $3,802.38m - NBS
  11. FAAC Disburses N650.83bn in December 2019 - NBS
  12. Nigeria's Merchandise Trade Grew in Q4 2019; Imports Rose Faster Exceeding Falling Exports
  13. Nigeria's GDP Grew By 2.55% in Real Terms in Q4 2019 and 2.27% in Full Year 2019
  14. Average Prices of 1kg of Tomato Decreased By -10.65% YoY to N237.22 in Jan 2020 - NBS
  15. Average Prices Of PMS, AGO, HHK and Cooking Gas - January 2020
  16. Headline Inflation Increases By 12.13% YoY In January 2020; 0.15% Higher Than December 2019 Rate
  17. N293.80bn Generated as IGR in Q3 2019 - NBS
  18. Nigeria's Total Public Debt Stood At N26.14trn in Q3 2019 - NBS
  19. Average Intercity Fare Increases By 1.43% MoM To N1, 666.57 In December 2019
  20. Average Price of 1kg of Tomato Decrease YoY by -2.80% To N263.90 In December 2019
  21. All Commodity Group Index Grew By 2.48% in Q3 2019
  22. Average Prices Of PMS, AGO, HHK and Cooking Gas - December 2019
  23. Headline Inflation Increases By 11.98% YoY In December 2019; 0.13% Higher Than November 2019 Rate


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