Strategically located on Africa’s west-central coast, the Federal Republic of Nigeria exported US$53.6 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 10.7% increase since 2015 and a 1.3% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Nigerian naira depreciated by -59.5% against the US dollar since 2015 and dropped by -0.3% from 2018 to 2019. Nigeria’s weaker local currency makes its imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from the Nigerian naira.
Applying a continental lens, 39.7% of Nigeria’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 28.2% were sold to importers in Asia. Nigeria shipped another 20.4% worth of goods to fellow African nations.
Smaller percentages went to North America (8%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (2.7%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.7%).
Nigeria’s Top 15 Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Nigeria’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Nigerian shipments by dollar value during 2019. Also shown is each import country’s percentage consumption of total Nigerian exports.
- India: US$8.3 billion (15.4% of total Nigerian exports)
- Spain: $5.3 billion (9.9%)
- Netherlands: $4.9 billion (9.1%)
- Ghana: $4 billion (7.5%)
- France: $3.6 billion (6.6%)
- South Africa: $3.2 billion (5.9%)
- United States: $2.8 billion (5.3%)
- Italy: $2.1 billion (4%)
- China: $1.7 billion (3.1%)
- Indonesia: $1.5 billion (2.8%)
- Turkey: $1.4 billion (2.5%)
- Canada: $1.3 billion (2.5%)
- United Kingdom: $1.2 billion (2.2%)
- Ivory Coast: $1.2 billion (2.2%)
- Germany: $1.2 billion (2.2%)
Over four-fifths (81%) of Nigerian exports in 2019 was delivered to the above 15 trading partners.
Leading increases for consumption of exports from Nigeria belong to Ghana (up 1,450%), Turkey (up 182.5%), China (up 88.8%) and Italy (up 32.9%).
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
In 2019, Nigeria incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- China: -US$10.4 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2019)
- Belgium: -$2.2 billion
- United States: -$1.9 billion
- Eswatini: -$1.5 billion
- United Arab Emirates: -$1.1 billion
- Russia: -$736.1 million
- South Korea: -$708.7 million
- Japan: -$434.2 million
- Ireland: -$321.2 million
- Saudi Arabia: -$308.5 million
Among Nigeria’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances from a percentage perspective, Nigerian deficits with Eswatini (up 1,568%), United Arab Emirates (up 176.4%) and Ireland (up 79.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019. In addition, Nigeria went from a $540.9 million surplus in 2018 trading with the United States to post a -$1.9 billion deficit in 2019. Nigeria also incurred a -$434.2 million deficit in 2019 reversing a $174.5 million surplus one year earlier.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Nigeria’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Nigeria to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Overall, Nigeria achieved a $6.2 billion trade surplus during 2019 down -62% from $16.5 billion in black ink one year earlier.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
In 2019, Nigeria incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries.
- Spain: US$4.8 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2019)
- Ghana: $3.9 billion
- South Africa: $2.7 billion
- France: $2.6 billion
- India: $2.6 billion
- Netherlands: $1.4 billion
- Italy: $1.3 billion
- Ivory Coast: $1.1 billion
- Indonesia: $1 billion
- Turkey: $912.8 million
Among Nigeria’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Nigerian surpluses with Ghana (up 1,722%), Italy (up 34.4%) and Spain (up 1.3%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Nigeria’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Nigeria to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Nigeria’s Exporting 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)
See also Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports, Nigeria’s Top 10 Imports and Top Asian Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Europe: Romania. Accessed on March 30, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 30, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 30, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 30, 2020
Wikipedia, Romania. Accessed on March 30, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Romania. Accessed on March 30, 2020