That dollar amount reflects a 19.7% upturn from $52.9 billion during 2018.
Year over year, the total value of Nigerian exports accelerated by 33.1% compared to $47.6 billion for 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the Nigerian naira depreciated by -39.2% against the US dollar since 2018 and declined by -6.2% from 2021 to 2022. Nigeria’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Nigeria’s biggest export is crude oil, a commodity that represents over three-quarters (78.7%) of its total exported goods by value. That percentage belies the relatively concentrated nature of the Nigerian portfolio of export products.
Nigeria places among world-leading export nations that sell oil seeds, as well as being a major competitor delivering crude oil and cocoa beans to international markets.
Where Nigeria Ships the Majority of Its Exports
The latest available country-specific data shows that 72.9% of products exported from Nigeria were bought by importers in: India (12.6% of the Nigerian total), Spain (12%), Netherlands (9.6%), Indonesia (7.4%), United States of America (7%), France (5.8%), Italy (4.2%), Ivory Coast (3.4%), Canada (3%), Portugal (2.95%), Brazil (2.87%) and South Africa (2.2%).
From a continental perspective, 44% of Nigeria’s exports by value was delivered to European countries while 31.1% was sold to importers in Asia. Nigeria shipped 10.1% worth of goods to North America, and another 10% was bought by buyers in Africa.
Smaller percentages went to Latin America (4.7%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Oceania (0.1%) Australia only.
Given Nigeria’s population of 216.7 million people, the total $63.3 billion in 2022 Nigerian exports translates to roughly $300 for every person in the West African nation. That dollar metric exceeds the average $225 per capita for 2021.
Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Nigerian global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Nigeria.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$57.5 billion (90.7% of total exports)
- Fertilizers: $1.9 billion (3%)
- Ships, boats: $773.7 million (1.2%)
- Cocoa: $679.8 million (1.1%)
- Oil seeds: $398.2 million (0.6%)
- Aluminum: $281.6 million (0.4%)
- Fruits, nuts: $247.3 million (0.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $150.8 million (0.2%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $150.5 million (0.2%)
- Copper: $149.4 million (0.2%)
Nigeria’s top 10 exports are highly concentrated accounting for 98.2% of the overall value of the country’s global shipments.
Gems and precious metals represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 1,583% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving export sales was fertilizers via a 102% advance.
Nigeria’s shipments of copper posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 100.9%.
The leading decliner among Nigeria’s top 10 export categories was the ships and boats grouping, thanks to its -46.5% year-over-year drop.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level.
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, Nigeria’s most valuable exported products are crude oil (78.7% of the Nigerian total), petroleum gases (11.7%), nitrogenous fertilizers (3%), light vessels, fire boats and floating docks (1%), coco beans (0.9%), oil seeds (0.5%), unwrought aluminum (0.4%), cashew nuts and coconuts (also 0.4%), electrical energy (0.2%), then unwrought gold (also 0.2%).
Products Generating Greatest Trade Surpluses for Nigeria
Nigeria incurred an overall $2.9 billion trade surplus for 2022, reversing a -$4.9 billion deficit in 2021.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$33.5 billion (Up by 28.2% since 2021)
- Fertilizers: $1.6 billion (Up by 110%)
- Ships, boats: $660.3 million (Down by -48.4%)
- Cocoa: $650.7 million (Up by 6.3%)
- Oil seeds: $344.1 million (Up by 8.9%)
- Gems, precious metals: $147.7 million (Up by 2,483%)
- Lead: $106.7 million (Up by 13.5%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $105 million (Up by 65.9%)
- Copper: $103.3 million (Up by 141.8%)
- Fruits, nuts: $97.7 million (Down by -48.2%)
Nigeria has highly positive net exports particularly in the international trade of crude oil and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Nigeria’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil category.
Products Causing Worst Trade Deficits for Nigeria
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.
- Machinery including computers: -US$6.9 billion (Down by -7.5% since 2021)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$3.5 billion (Up by 11.7%)
- Vehicles: -$3.2 billion (Down by -6%)
- Cereals: -$2.27 billion (Down by -17.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$2.26 billion (Down by -9.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$1.2 billion (Up by 10.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$1.1 billion (Down by -23%)
- Organic chemicals: -$1.02 billion (Up by 27.6%)
- Other chemical goods: -$1.01 billion (Up by 8.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$979.6 million (Down by -15%)
Nigeria has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category.
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Nigeria’s total exported goods represent 4.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($1.281 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 4.9% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2022 compares to 4.1% for 2021. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Nigeria’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 33% for 2022, down from an estimated 35% for 2021.
See also Nigeria’s Top 10 Imports, Nigeria’s Top Trading Partners and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Africa: Nigeria. Accessed on May 20, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 20, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on May 20, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on May 20, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 20, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 20, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on May 20, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Nigeria. Accessed on May 20, 2023
Wikipedia, Nigeria. Accessed on May 20, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on May 20, 2023