Nigeria’s trade deficit hits N2.38tn in Q3, highest since 2017 – NBS

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Nigeria’s total trade grew by 34.15% in Q3, 2020 compared to Q2, 2020 but declined 8.85% compared to Q3 2019. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) disclosed this in its Q3 Foreign Trade Statistics report, which was released on Monday.

Key highlights

  • Total imports rose by 33.77% in Q3, 2020 compared to Q2,2020 and 38.02% compared to Q3, 2019
  • Imported Agricultural goods increased in value by 21.13% in Q3,2020 compared to Q2, 2020, and 109.82% compared to the corresponding quarter in 2019;
  • The value of Raw material imports increased by 24.47% in Q3,2020 compared to Q2, 2020 and 114.95% compared to the same quarter the previous year.
  • Solid minerals imports increased in value by 21.57% in Q3,2020 compared to Q2, 2020 and  77.23% compared to Q3,2019.
  • Manufactured goods imports increased in value by 23.18% in Q3 ,2020 compared to Q2, 2020  and 23.47% year-on-year
  • The value of Energy goods imports decreased by 53.69% in Q3, 2020 compared to Q2, 2020  and a considerable decline of 69.06% year-on-year.
  • Other oil products imports grew by 216.28% in Q3,2020 compared to Q2, 2020  and 32.38% when compared to Q3, 2019.

Nigeria’s Q3 trade deficit hits N2.38tn, highest since 2017 – NBS


  • Total exports was 34.85% higher in Q3,2020 than Q2,2020 but 43.41% less than in Q3, 2019.
  • Agricultural goods export dropped in value by 22.6% in Q3,2020 compared to Q2, 2020 but increased 43.7% year-on-year
  • The value of Raw material goods export recorded a decline of 24.6% in Q3,2020 compared to Q2, 2020 and a decline of 61.9% compared to  the same quarter in 2019
  • The value of solid minerals exports registered an increase of 253% in Q3,2020 compared to Q2,2020 but a decrease of 12.2% compared to Q3,2019
  • Manufactured goods export decreased in value by 47.7% in Q3,2020 against the level recorded in Q2,2020 and a considerable decline of 86.7% compared with the corresponding quarter in 2019.
  • Crude oil exports grew in value by 56% in Q3,2020 compared to Q2, 2020 but decreased in value by 35.3%  year-on-year.
  • Energy goods increased in value by 3.9% in Q3, 2020 compared to Q2, 2020  but decreased by 20% year –on-year.
  • Other oil products increased in value by 13.1% in Q3,2020 compared to Q2, 2020 but decreased by 23.2% compared to the same quarter, the previous year.

Major export trading partners and percentage share in Q3, 2020 export trade.

INDIA 16.73%
SPAIN 10.97%
TURKEY 5.01%


Major import trading partners and percentage share in Q3, 2020 import trade

CHINA 30.51%
INDIA                                    6.58%

Major Traded Agricultural Products.

  • Sesamum seeds, whether or not broken
  • Cashew nuts, in shell
  • Good Fermented Nigerian Cocoa Beans
  • Superior quality raw cocoa beans
  • Shea Nuts
  • Soya beans, whether or not broken.


The value of Nigeria’s merchandise trade stood at N8,374.4billion in Q3 2020. This represents an increase of 34.15% in Q3, 2020 compared to Q2, 2020 but a decline of 8.85% compared to Q3, 2019. Total trade year to date amounted to N23,203.9billion.

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The import component was valued at N5,381.4billion representing an increase of 33.77% in Q3, 2020 against the level recorded in Q2,2020 and 38.02% compared to Q3, 2019. The value of imports in Q3 2020 represented the highest level for any quarter since 2017.

The export component accounted for N2,993 billion of the total trade in Q3,2020 indicating an increase of 34.85% compared to the value recorded in Q2, 2020 but a decrease of 43.41% compared to Q3, 2019. Aside from Q2 2020, the value of exports in Q3 2020 represented the lowest level of any quarter since 2017.

Due to lower exports and higher imports compared to 2019, the trade balance recorded a deficit of N2,388.5billion during the third quarter. This also represents the widest merchandise trade deficit since 2017. When compared to the deficit of N1,803.3 billion recorded in Q2, the Q3 deficit rose by 32.45%.

The predominant export remained crude oil, which was valued at N2,424.8billion, representing 81.02% of total exports while non-crude oil was valued at N568.2billion, or 18.98% of total export during the review period.

Imports Classified by Standard International Trade Classification and country of Origin

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Total imports amounted to N5,381.4billion in Q3, 2020 compared to N4,022.9billion recorded in Q2 2020, indicating an increase of 33.77%, and an increase of 38.02%. when compared with Q3, 2019.

The year to date value of imports stood at N13,908.5. The increase in the value of imports in Q3, 2020 can be attributed to the increases in the value of mineral fuels (N484.4billion or 219%), Machinery & transport equipment (N314.9billion or 20%) and chemicals and related products (N261.0billion or 34%) against their respective values in Q2,2020.

During the quarter, Nigeria imported goods mainly from Asia, valued at N2,587.3billion Other major imports originated from Europe, valued at N1,805.0billion while imports from America and Africa amounted to N746.4billion  and N175.4billion respectively. Import from Oceania stood at N532.4billion while goods valued at N12.5billion originated from ECOWAS.

Nigeria’s imports, by country of origin, shows goods were imported mainly from China (N1,641.87billion or 30.51%), United States (N482.3billion or 8.96%), The Netherlands (N443.5billion or 8.24%) and India (N354.1billion or 6.58%) respectively.

Exports Classified by Standard International Trade Classification and Country of Destination

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The value of exports in Q3, 2020 stood at N2,993billion, showing an increase of 34.85% compared to Q2, 2020 but a decrease of 43.41% compared to Q3, 2019. Year to date, the value of total export amounted to N9,295.4billion.

Exports by section revealed that mineral products accounted for the largest proportion of exports, amounting to N2,788.3billion or 93.1%. This was due to the crude oil component of this section. This was followed by Vehicles aircraft and parts (N103.4billion or 3.5%) and others.

Analysis of export by region revealed that Nigeria exported mostly to Europe (N1,236 billion or 41.3%), followed by Asia N1,119.3billion or 37%), Africa (N442.3billion or 15%), and America (N150.86billion or 5%). Within Africa, goods worth N182.4billion was exported to ECOWAS member states.

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Exports by Country of destination showed that Nigeria exported goods to India valued at N500.6billion (or  16.73%), Spain (N328.5billion or 10.97%), The Netherlands (N227.8billion or 7.61%), and South Africa (N203.9 or 6.81%).

Export/Imports Products Classified by Sectors Q2, 2020 

Agricultural Goods Sector

During the quarter, total trade in Agricultural goods stood at N563.9billion, out of which exported agricultural goods accounted for N60.5billion. Analysis by economic region showed that Agricultural goods were exported to Asia (N32.2billion), Europe (N16.7billion), Africa (N9.1billion) and America(N2.4billion).

The key drivers of agricultural products exports were Sesamum seeds, Cashew nuts, well-fermented Cocoa beans and Superior quality raw cocoa beans. Sesamum seeds were exported mainly to Japan (N5.3 billion) and to China (N4.7billion), while Cashew nuts worth N8.3billion and N2.2billion were exported to Vietnam and India respectively.

In terms of imports, Durum wheat worth N55.5billion was imported from the United States, N46.6billion value from Russia and N46.5billion value from Canada. This was followed by Mackerel, imported from Russia worth N13.8 billion, Netherlands (N5.8billion) and Japan (N2.6billion). Also in this category was maize seed worth N25.9billion imported from Argentina.

Solid Minerals Sector

The total trade in solid mineral goods stood at N40.8billion in Q3, 2020, comprising an import component of N35.2 billion and an export component of N5.5billion. The major products exported under this sector were Other Cement exported to the Niger Republic, worth N1.4billion. This was followed by Cement Clinkers exported to Cameroon, worth N1.2billion as well as Lead Ores and Concentrate exported to China, worth N1.0billion.

In terms of imports, Plasters of Calcined Gypsum was mainly imported from Turkey, worth N4.0 billion and Egypt (N1.9billion). This was followed by Gypsum, imported from Spain worth N4.4billion. Crude salt was also imported from Brazil and Namibia worth N3.2billion and N1.9billion respectively.

Manufactured Goods Sector

The value of manufactured goods trade in Q3, 2020 stood at N3,565.1billion. Out of this, the export component accounted for N133.0 billion. The products that drove up manufactured exports were Floating or submersible drilling platform exported to Equatorial Guinea, and worth N21.96billion, vessels and other Floating structures to Denmark, Congo and Cameroun in values N9.8billion, N3.9billion and N3.6billion respectively. Export trade on manufactured goods by region showed that goods were exported mainly to Africa (N78.4billion), Europe (N28.5billion) and Asia (N16.9 billion).

On the other hand, manufactured imports stood at N3,432.1billion. The main drivers were Used vehicles imported from the United States (N134.8billion), as well as Other antibiotics imported from The Netherlands (N78.1billion), India (N25.4billion) and China (N10.2billion). Other goods imported under this category were Motorcycles from India (N50.7billion) and from China (N22.4billion).

Import trade by region showed that manufactured goods were mainly imported from Asia (N2,104.5billion), Europe (N773.3billion) and America (N410.99billion).

Raw Material Goods Sector

The value of total trade in raw material stood at N721.4billion. The import component was valued at N710.2billion while the export component stood at N11.2billion. During the quarter, Leather further prepared after tanning worth N1.8billion was exported to Spain while the category Other goods not specified worth N1.2billion were exported to Ivory Coast.

In terms of imports, Cane sugar worth N73.7illion was imported from Brazil, Milk preparation worth N16.8billion was imported from Ireland.

Other products imported under this category were Preparation for infant use, valued at N10.4billion and Mixtures of Odoriferous substance, valued at N11.5 billion imported from the United Kingdom and Swaziland respectively.

Trade Intensity in Q3 2020

Export Intensity Index with Five Major Trading Partners

India registered export intensities of 6.26, 4.15 and 5.81 for the months of July, August and September. This was followed by Spain which registered export intensities of 6.10, 4.47 and 4.19 during the same months respectively. Export trade with The Netherlands was also intense, recording 2.26 in July, 2.04 in August and 1.30 in September. Likewise, Turkey registered 2.25, 3.52 and 3.78 while France recorded the low export intensity of  0.72 in July, but 1.38 in August and 1.56 in September respectively.

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Import Intensity Index with five Major Trading Partners

In Q3,2020, the import intensity of Nigeria with China was greater than 1 all through the quarter, recording 1.93, 1.56, and 1.45 for July, August, and September. There was also intense trade with The Netherlands in each month of the quarter; July, 2.74, August, 1.62 and September, 1.13.

For India, import intensity was recorded at 2.05 in July, 3.12 in August and 3.46 in September while for Belgium, import intensity was recorded at 1.46 (July), 1.13 (August) and 1.96 (September). On the other hand, the import intensity index registered against the United States during the quarter was low in the months of August (0.76) and September (0.78) compared to 1.19 recorded in July.

Trade by Mode of Transport

Commodities exported from Nigeria were mostly transported via water, with water transport accounting for N2,964.9billion or 99.06% of total exports. Air transport contributed N20.6billion or o.69%, Road transport accounted for N3.0billion or 0.10% while other transport accounted for N4.4billion or 0.15%.

Similarly, for imports, most goods brought into the country arrived via water transportation means. Water transport accounted for N4,960.7billion or 92.2% of the value of total imports. Other modes of transport were Air and road accounting for imports valued at N387.3billion or 7.2% and N33.4billion or 0.6% respectively.

Trade by Custom Ports and Post

In Q3, 2020, the bulk of export transactions was conducted through Apapa port, with export goods valued at N2,838.9billion or 94.9% of the value of total exports. This was followed by Port-Harcourt (3) which recorded N78.8billion or 2.6%, and Tin Can Island which recorded N43.3billion or 1.5% of the value of total exports.

In terms of imports, Apapa Port also recorded the highest transactions valued at N2,498.2billion or 46.4% of total imports. This was followed by Tin Can Island and Port-Harcourt (3) with goods valued at N1,014.1billion or 18.8%, and N568.4billion or 10.6% respectively.

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Nigeria’s trade deficit hits N2.38tn in Q3, highest since 2017 – NBS - Brand SpurNigeria’s trade deficit hits N2.38tn in Q3, highest since 2017 – NBS - Brand Spur

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