The latest data from the NBS in its Foreign Trade in Goods Statistics for Q3 2017 show the total value of trade as N5.92trn, representing an increase of 4% on the preceding quarter. Compared with Q3, the total export value was 15% higher at N3.57trn, and the import value 10% lower at N2.35trn. Thus a surplus of N1.2trn (US$3.92bn) was achieved. These customs data may tell a different story to the BoP series from the CBN, which is not yet available.
The decline in the value of imported goods is partly due to improved local substitution (particularly for agro-related products). Furthermore, although the economy has emerged from a recession, the recovery remains fragile and spending capacity of households as well as businesses remain subdued.
However, based on the data, wheat, palm oil and mackerel accounted for 23%, 6% and 4% respectively of total agricultural imports valued at N232bn in Q3.
Despite the FGN’s economic diversification strategy, crude oil gulped the largest share of exports again, representing 83% of total exports in the quarter. Since Q2, oil production and exports have increased.
In the quarter under review, Nigeria exported goods (presumably non-oil products) valued at N367bn to other African countries; exports to ECOWAS countries accounted for less than half (31%) of this figure.
Bolstering local substitution to help reduce Nigeria’s import dependency remains a key objective of the government. It needs to stay the course, even though oil prices are firmer this year.