Strategically located on Africa’s west-central coast, the Federal Republic of Nigeria shipped US$52.9 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That dollar figure reflects a -46.7% decline since 2014 but a 29.9% gain from 2017 to 2018.
Applying a continental lens, nearly a half (43.9%) of Nigerian exports were shipped to European countries while 27.7% worth was destined for Asia.
Another 13.2% was delivered to North America while 9.2% went to Africa, 4.9% arrived in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and 0.4% was sold to importers in Oceania (0.4%) led by Australia.
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 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage consumption of total Nigerian exports.
- India: US$8.4 billion (15.9% of total Nigerian exports)
- Netherlands: $5.7 billion (10.7%)
- Spain: $5.4 billion (10.1%)
- France: $4.2 billion (7.9%)
- South Africa: $3.4 billion (6.4%)
- United States: $3.2 billion (6.1%)
- Indonesia: $2.2 billion (4.2%)
- Sweden: $2 billion (3.8%)
- United Kingdom: $1.9 billion (3.6%)
- Brazil: $1.7 billion (3.2%)
- Italy: $1.6 billion (3%)
- Canada: $1.5 billion (2.8%)
- Côte d’Ivoire: $1.15 billion (2.2%)
- Germany: $1.12 billion (2.1%)
- Togo: $936.5 million (1.8%)
Over four-fifths (83.9%) of Nigerian exports in 2018 was delivered to the above 15 trading partners.
United States (down -37.8%) and Togo (down -6.1%) were the only top importers that decreased its purchases from Nigeria from 2017 to 2018. Among the other 13 countries, gains ranged from a minimum of 7.2% for Canada and 15.1% for India up to 134.2% for Sweden and 202.4% for Brazil.
For the complete listing, see the section Searchable Datalist of Countries Importing Nigeria’s Exports near the bottom of this article.
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 2018, Nigeria incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- China: -US$6.2 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- South Korea: -$3.6 billion
- Belgium: -$2.9 billion
- Russia: -$856.5 million
- Latvia: -$563.1 million
- Norway: -$466.2 million
- Saudi Arabia: -$422.4 million
- United Arab Emirates: -$387.3 million
- Malaysia: -$343.8 million
- Switzerland: -$197.7 million
Among Nigeria’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Nigerian deficits with South Korea (up 879.9%), Malaysia (up 737%) and United Arab Emirates (up 137.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
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.
Nigeria achieved an overall $16.5 billion trade surplus during 2018, up from $11.8 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 2018, Nigeria incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- India: US$6.5 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- Spain: $4.7 billion
- France: $3.1 billion
- South Africa: $2.9 billion
- Sweden: $1.9 billion
- Indonesia: $1.89 billion
- Netherlands: $1.5 billion
- Canada: $1.14 billion
- Côte d’Ivoire: $1.07 billion
- Brazil: $1.05 billion
Among Nigeria’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Nigerian surpluses with Sweden (up 150.4%), Netherlands (up 108.9%) and Côte d’Ivoire (up 107.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018. In addition, Nigeria transitioned from -$177.9 million in red ink trading with Brazil in 2017 to incur a $1.05 billion surplus for 2018.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Nigeria’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Nigeria to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Nigeria’s Exporting Companies
Five Nigerian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 including three regional banks, an insurance conglomerate and a construction materials firm.
- Dangote Cement (construction materials)
- Equity Assurance (financial institution)
- FBN Holdings (regional bank)
- Guaranty Trust Bank (regional bank)
- Zenith Bank (regional bank)
Wikipedia also lists exporters from Nigeria. Selected examples are shown below:
- Julius Berger Nigeria (construction materials)
- Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (oil, gas)
- Oando (oil, gas)
- ROCAD Construction Limited (oil, gas)
- Shell Nigeria (oil, gas)
Searchable Datalist of Countries Importing Nigeria’s Exports
You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icon at the top of any of the columns below. The right-most shows the percentage change in value for each importing country from 2017 to 2018.
|Rank||Importer||2018 Nigerian Exports (US$)||2017-8|
|5.||South Africa||$3.4 billion||+84.1%|
|6.||United States||$3.2 billion||-37.8%|
|9.||United Kingdom||$1.9 billion||+79.4%|
|13.||Côte d'Ivoire||$1.1 billion||+81%|
|22.||Dominican Republic||$310.4 million||+160.9%|
|24.||South Korea||$296 million||+41.6%|
|48.||Hong Kong||$21.7 million||+1,796%|
|49.||United Arab Emirates||$21.6 million||-88.1%|
|52.||Colombia||$16 million||no 2017 data|
|57.||Burkina Faso||$6.5 million||+30.6%|
|61.||Sierra Leone||$3.1 million||-8.4%|
|74.||Bangladesh||$792,000||no 2017 data|
|82.||Sri Lanka||$377,000||no 2017 data|
|85.||Syrian Arab Republic||$309,000||-36.2%|
|87.||Tunisia||$258,000||no 2017 data|
|93.||Central African Rep||$138,000||no 2017 data|
|94.||Czech Republic||$131,000||no 2017 data|
|95.||Rwanda||$108,000||no 2017 data|
|97.||Democratic Rep. Congo||$92,000||-81.4%|
|99.||Uganda||$65,000||no 2017 data|
|100.||Belize||$60,000||no 2017 data|
|103.||Honduras||$44,000||no 2017 data|
|107.||South Sudan||$28,000||no 2017 data|
|109.||Venezuela||$26,000||no 2017 data|
|111.||Cayman Islands||$15,000||no 2017 data|
See also Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports, Nigeria’s Top 10 Imports and Top Asian Export Countries
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 27, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 27, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 27, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 27, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Nigeria. Accessed on March 27, 2019
Wikipedia, Nigeria. Accessed on March 27, 2019