Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports

Nigerian flag

Nigerian flag (

A Western African nation surrounded by Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, the Federal Republic of Nigeria shipped US$44.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a -50.3% drop since 2013 but a 35.2% uptick from 2016 to 2017.

From January to March 2018, exported goods from Nigeria were valued at $13 billion. This three-month metric puts Nigerian exports on track for an annualized $52.1 billion estimated for all 2018.

From a continental perspective, well over a third (37.4%) of Nigerian exports were sent to European countries while 29.6% worth was destined for Asia. Another 16.5% was delivered to North America, 12.1% went to Africa with 3.3% bought by importers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Nigeria’s exported goods plus services represent 12.5% of total Nigerian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

Given Nigeria’s population of 190.6 million people, the total $44.5 billion in 2017 Nigerian exports translates to roughly $220 for every person in the West African country.

Nigeria’s unemployment rate was an estimated 18.8% as of September 2017 per Trading Economics.

Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Nigerian global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Nigeria.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$39.1 billion (96% of total exports)
  2. Ships, boats: $253.5 million (0.6%)
  3. Cocoa: $238.1 million (0.6%)
  4. Oil seeds: $180.9 million (0.4%)
  5. Fertilizers: $149.8 million (0.4%)
  6. Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $102.4 million (0.3%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $78.1 million (0.2%)
  8. Fruits, nuts: $76.1 million (0.2%)
  9. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $67.9 million (0.2%)
  10. Rubber, rubber articles: $55.4 million (0.1%)

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Nigeria’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.

Nigeria’s top 10 exports are highly concentrated accounting for 99% of the overall value of the country’s global shipments.

Among the top 10 Nigerian exports above, the fertilizers category showed the greatest increase from 2016 to 2017 via a 140.9% uptick.

Exported fruits and nuts gained 133.6%. Plastics and articles made from plastics exported from Nigeria appreciated by 100.8% followed by Nigeria’s exported oil seeds up by 48.7%.

Three export categories didn’t fare as well. Nigeria’s sales of exported tobacco and manufactured substitutes fell by -13% year over year. Cocoa exports declined in value by -21.4% while Nigerian shipments of ships and boats slid by -86.3% from 2016 to 2017.


Overall, Nigeria achieved a $11.8 billion trade surplus during 2017 reversing a -$2.3 billion deficit one year earlier.

The following types of Nigerian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports reflect the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$30.9 billion (Up by 41.5% since 2016)
  2. Cocoa: $225 million (Down by -23.1%)
  3. Oil seeds: $170.8 million (Up by 61.8%)
  4. Ships, boats: $120.1 million (Reversing a -$885.9 million deficit)
  5. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $47.8 million (Up by 58.8%)
  6. Fruits, nuts: $31.9 million (Reversing a -$23.3 million deficit)
  7. Lead: $23.4 million (Down by -0.5%)
  8. Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $7.1 million (Up by 88.9%)
  9. Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $6.7 million (Up by 169.6%)
  10. Ores, slag, ash: $5.2 million (Down by -23.5%)

Nigeria has highly positive net exports particularly in the international trade of crude oil, petroleum gases and, to a lesser degree, refined petroleum oils. In turn, these cashflows indicate Nigeria’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil category.


Below are exports from Nigeria that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Nigeria’s goods trail Nigerian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$3.9 billion (Down by -36.4% since 2016)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.7 billion (Down by -27.1%)
  3. Vehicles: -$1.5 billion (Down by -9.4%)
  4. Cereals: -$1.4 billion (Up by 14%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.3 billion (Down by -12.2%)
  6. Articles of iron or steel: -$676.8 million (Down by -15.4%)
  7. Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: -$666.2 million (Up by 345.2%)
  8. Fish: -$646.4 million (Up by 15.2%)
  9. Other chemical goods: -$632.5 million (Up by 21.4%)
  10. Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$618.1 million (Down by -22.9%)

Nigeria has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category, notably mobile phones.


Nigerian Export Companies

Five Nigerian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 including three regional banks, an insurance conglomerate and a construction materials firm.

  • Dangote Cement (construction materials)
  • Equity Assurance (financial institution)
  • FBN Holdings (regional bank)
  • Guaranty Trust Bank (regional bank)
  • Zenith Bank (regional bank)

Wikipedia also lists exporters from Nigeria. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Julius Berger Nigeria (construction materials)
  • Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (oil, gas)
  • Oando (oil, gas)
  • ROCAD Construction Limited (oil, gas)
  • Shell Nigeria (oil, gas)



Searchable List of Nigeria’s Most Valuable Export Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, Nigeria’s top export products are crude oil and, to a lesser extent, petroleum gases, cocoa beans, high-temperature distilled coal tar oils, refined petroleum oils then nitrogenous fertilizers.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Nigeria during 2017. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2016.

RankNigerian Export Product2017 Value (US$)Change
1Crude oil$36.1 billion+34%
2Petroleum gases$6.2 billion+34.5%
3Cocoa beans$191.1 million-19.8%
4Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)$183.1 million+220.1%
5Processed petroleum oils$180.2 million+436.4%
6Nitrogenous fertilizers$165.7 million+178.1%
7Breaker vessels$145.9 millionNo 2016 data
8Oil seeds$136.1 million+26.7%
9Cruise/cargo ships, barges$113.4 millionNo 2016 data
10Electrical energy$112.1 million-2%
11Cigars/cigarellos, cigarettes$111.5 million-5.2%
12Cashew nuts$80.6 million+148.4%
13Natural rubber$59.9 million+59%
14Hydraulic cements$58.4 million+101.4%
15Ethylene polymers$54 million+81.4%
16Crustaceans (including lobsters)$49.6 million-15.7%
17Cocoa butter, fat, oil$49 million-10.7%
18Further-prepared leather$43.8 million+139.4%
19Soya beans$27.9 million+2,148%
20Oil seed flour/meal$26.8 million+122.7%
21Pasta, couscous$25.2 million+4%
22Lead (unwrought)$25.1 million+10%
23Aluminum (unwrought)$22.2 million-5.6%
24Sheep/lamb leather$21.6 million+28.7%
25Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$19.9 million+24,121%
26Bran, other residues$14.4 million-4.2%
27Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$14.3 million-1.5%
28Wigs, false beards, eyelasses$14.1 million+37.9%
29Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)$13.6 million+50.9%
30Soya-bean oil-cake, other solid residues$12.9 million+10,030%
31Packing sacks, bags$12.1 million-19.3%
32Aluminum containers$10.9 million+14.5%
33Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)$10.1 millionNo 2016 data
34Wood charcoal$9.7 million+206.8%
35Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks$9.2 millionNo 2016 data
36Goat/kidskin leather$8.5 million-29%
37Cocoa paste$8.5 million+604.7%
38Ginger, saffron, turmeric, thyme, other spices$8.4 million-9.1%
39Railway/streetcar sleepers$8.2 million+1,123%
40Fresh or dried flowers (for bouquets, ornamental)$8.2 million+98.3%
41Other organic cleaning preparations$8.1 million-23.5%
42Rough wood$7.7 million+39.9%
43Coconut/palm/babassu oil$7.1 million+56.6%
44Soups, broths$7 million+56%
45Other food preparations$6.6 million+128%
46Cocoa waste including shells, husks$6.5 million-21.5%
47Malt beer$6.3 million+51%
48Bottles, flasks, jars, pots, other containers$6.1 million-45.5%
49Unroasted ground-nuts$6 million+719.4%
50Zinc ores, concentrates$4.9 million+68.5%
51Other iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods$4.4 million+29%
52Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$4.3 million-33.6%
53Footwear (rubber or plastic)$3.5 million+47.4%
54Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)$3.5 million+296.1%
55Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$3.4 million+186.7%
56Soaps, organic surface-active products$2.9 million-42.1%
57Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$2.9 million-36.3%
58Shaped wood$2.8 million+438.4%
59Palm oil$2.7 million+2,178%
60Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods$2.7 million+20,838%
61Oral/dental hygiene preparations$2.6 million-38%
62Industrial preparation machinery$2.6 millionNo 2016 data
63Electric generating sets, converters$2.6 million+439.7%
64Yarn (85%+ cotton)$2.3 million-28.6%
65Household/sanitary rolls$2.3 million+115.1%
66Niobium/zirconium ores, concentrates$2.2 million+58.4%
67Particle board, other ligneous materials$2.1 million-10.9%
68Liquid pumps and elevators$1.8 millionNo 2016 data
69Lead ores, concentrates$1.8 million-16.7%
70Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)$1.8 million+230.3%
71Miscellaneous machine electrical parts$1.7 million+17,080%
72Buttermilk, yogurt$1.7 million+655.3%
73Fruit and vegetable juices$1.7 million+51%
74Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$1.6 million+32.3%
75Copper waste, scrap$1.6 million+249.1%
76Miscellaneous tin articles$1.5 million+191.1%
77Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$1.5 million-27.5%
78Propylene/olefin polymers$1.5 million+104.1%
79Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners$1.5 million-80.2%
80Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections$1.4 million+1,649%
81Sauces, mixed condiments/seasonings$1.4 million-45.7%
82Iron or steel tubes, pipes$1.4 millionNo 2016 data
83Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)$1.3 million-43.3%
84Inorganic acids, oxygen compounds$1.3 million+330.9%
85Silicones$1.2 millionNo 2016 data
86Densified/metallised wood in shapes$1.2 million-12.5%
87Stoppers, caps, lids, corks, screw caps$1.1 million+30.6%
88Natural gums, resins, balsams$1.1 million-36.6%
89Starches, inuin$971,000No 2016 data
90Cocoa powder (no added sugar)$962,000+497.5%
91Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$899,000-26.6%
92Agricultural/forestry machinery$804,000No 2016 data
93Veneer sheets, sheets for sawn wood$795,000No 2016 data
94Survey/hydro/weather instruments$786,000No 2016 data
95Zinc dust, powders, flakes$755,000+38%
96Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$653,000-80.3%
97Uncombed synthetic staple fibers$615,000+66.7%
98Sawn wood$614,000-59%
99Leguminous vegetables (fresh/chilled)$605,000-9.7%
100Medication mixes in dosage$589,000-29.5%
101Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods$527,000-62.2%
102Buttons, press-fasteners, snap-fasteners$525,000No 2016 data
103Pencils, crayons, leads, pastels, chalks$506,000No 2016 data
104Onions, garlic, leeks (fresh/chilled)$499,000+1,249%
105Medicinal plants$491,000+130.5%
106Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$489,000No 2016 data
107Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$484,000+127.2%
108Wood pulp residual lyes$465,000-81.6%
109Refined copper, unwrought alloys$459,000-50.6%
110Trailers$431,000No 2016 data
111Absestos-cement items, cellulose fiber-cement$421,000-55.7%
112Pneumatic hand tool$378,000No 2016 data
113Float/ground/polished glass in sheets$346,000+119%
114Natural sands$346,000+4,225%
115Miscellaneous lead articles$325,000-74.3%
116Other coloring matter, luminophores$322,000+485.5%
117Hair preparations$318,000-6.5%
118Flour/meal/powder of peas, beans, lentils$291,000+3.9%
119Personal toilet/shaving preparations, deodorants$284,000-77.2%
120Manganese ores, concentrates$276,000-92.9%
121Wheat or meslin flour$267,000No 2016 data
122Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$246,000+20%
123Lead plates, sheets, foil, powders, flakes$241,000No 2016 data
124Hydrogen, rare gases$219,000+682.1%
125Tufted carpets/textile floor coverings$212,000+37.7%
126Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$205,000+64%
127Tissues, napkins, toilet paper$203,000No 2016 data
128Pepper (dried/crushed/ground)$202,000-11%
129Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes$197,000No 2016 data
130Carrots, turnips, salad beetroot, radishes$194,000+50.4%
131Automobile parts/accessories$192,000-46.4%
132Woven fabrics (mixed)$190,000-10%
133Perfumes, toilet waters$190,000+331.8%
134Ball-point/felt-tipped pens, markers$182,000+40%
135Anti-knock/oxidation/gum inhibitors$177,000No 2016 data
136Temperature-change machines$167,000+16,600%
137Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$165,000-91.5%
138Unglazed ceramic flags, cubes, hearth/wall tiles$159,000No 2016 data
139Miscellaneous oil cakes$157,000-43.5%
140Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)$156,000No 2016 data
141Manioc, artichokes, sweet potatoes$155,000+307.9%
142Miscellaneous wooden articles$153,000-24.3%
143Bones, horn-cores including powder, waste$151,000-41.7%
144Amino-compounds (oxygen)$148,000+261%
145Miscellaneous ores, concentrates$145,000No 2016 data
146Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$141,000No 2016 data
147Copper plates, sheets, strips$134,000-6.9%
148Quartz, quartzite$133,000No 2016 data
149Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$131,000-52.4%
150Paper/paperboard waste, scrap$124,000-72.2%
151Prepared glues, other prepared adhesives$124,000+26.5%
152Special purpose vehicles$121,000No 2016 data
153Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry$120,000-2.4%
154Plastics waste, scrap$117,000+33%
155Synthetic filament yarn$117,000No 2016 data
156Kaolin, other kaolinic clays$108,000+980%
157Miscellaneous animal products$108,000No 2016 data
158Refrigerators, freezers$104,000No 2016 data
159Bombs, grenades, ammunition$103,000+186.1%
160Plastic tile or roll coverings$99,000-31.3%
161Miscellaneous zinc articles$95,000-87%
162Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$92,000No 2016 data
163Coal, solid fuels made from coal$92,000No 2016 data
164Lead oxides, red/orange lead$91,000-82.1%
165Miscellaneous furniture$88,000-85.2%
166Medication mixes not in dosage$87,000-1.1%
168Fresh or chilled beef$86,000No 2016 data
169Moulding boxes/base$85,000+117.9%
170Cobalt ores, concentrates$78,000No 2016 data
171Mica, mica waste$75,000+8.7%
172Registers, account books, note books$75,000No 2016 data
173Granite, sandstone monument/building stone$74,000No 2016 data
174Fixed vegetable fats/oils$69,000-1.4%
175Salts including table/denatured salt$66,000-31.3%
176Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$60,000-70.1%
177Copper ores, concentrates$56,000No 2016 data
178Tin ores, concentrates$51,000-79%
179Tomatoes (prepared/preserved)$51,000+218.8%
180Packing cases, boxes, crates, drums$48,000No 2016 data
181Iron and steel reservoirs, tanks, vats$46,000No 2016 data
182Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$40,000-64.9%
183Photographic cameras, apparatus$40,000No 2016 data
184Paper containers, cellulose wadding$40,000No 2016 data
185Gypsum, anhydrite, plasters$40,000-34.4%
186Carbon, carbon blacks$40,000+100%
188Yeasts$38,000No 2016 data
189Precious metal ores, concentrates$36,000+500%
190Solid-form sugars, fructose, glucose, lactose$36,000No 2016 data
191Regulate/control instruments$36,000No 2016 data
192Iron and steel stranded wire, cables (insulated)$34,000No 2016 data
193Vermiculite, perlite$32,000No 2016 data
194Aluminum foil (thin)$31,000No 2016 data
195Butter, ghee$30,000-82.9%
196Dried shelled vegetables$30,000-98.8%
197Corn$30,000No 2016 data
198Photographic plates/film, unexposed$29,000No 2016 data
199Motorcycles$29,000No 2016 data
200Paper labels$27,000-27%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$44.442 billion or 99.9% by value for all products exported from Nigeria during 2017.

See also Top African Export Countries, Nigeria’s Top 10 Imports and Nigeria’s Top Trading Partners

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 11, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 11, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 11, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 11, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Nigeria. Accessed on August 11, 2018

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 11, 2018