NIGERIA’s non-oil imports shipped by sea surpassed her exports by over 463% during the first quarter of 2019 with the value of imported goods totalling N2.62trn ($7.2bn) while exports only added up to a paltry N604.39bn ($1.7bn).
In a clear sign that despite the government’s efforts over the last four years to diversify the economy, Nigeria still has a huge balance of trade deficit, the value of imports continue to dwarf exports. Data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the total non-oil sector merchandise trade by sea totalled N3.10tn during the first quarter of 2019 compared with N2.10tn in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Also, Nigeria’s total merchandise trade by sea declined by N411.4bn during the first quarter of 2019 compared with the fourth quarter of 2018. According to the NBS, between January and March 2019,Nigeria traded in agricultural goods worth N322.3bn, with exports adding up to N86.1bn, while imports were a whopping N236.3bn.
When it came to raw materials the total amount of goods traded were N366.5bn, with exports valued at N36.4bn and the cost of imports totalling N330.08bn. With solid mineral, the value of goods traded were N26.8bn, with exports valued at N8.99bn and the cost of imports totalling N17.8bn.
In the energy sector, the total number of goods traded added up to N10.7bn, with exports adding up to N10.6bn and the value of imports totalling N32.1m. When it came to manufactured goods, the total value of trade was N3.3tn, with exports bringing in N462.3bn, while the value of imports was a massive N2.7tn.
Overall, the value of non-oil exports for the first quarter of 2019 was N604.4bn, some N371.9bn or 162% higher than for the last quarter of 2018. Further analysis of the data showed that reduced oil exports and prices in the first quarter of the year accounted for the difference in merchandise trade by sea between the fourth quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2019.
Dr Victor Iyama, the president of the Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association, said: “Apart from the fact that most of the main crops such as cocoa, cashew, ginger, hibiscus and scent leaves are in season from November to March, more people are going into the non-oil export sector and there has been greater transparency and channels of official export declaration and documentation. Also, production of many of the vegetables have gone up and with irrigation, some of them can be grown three times a year.”
He also credited the rehabilitated of the Apapa Port access roads, as well as the importers and investors foreign exchange window for the improvement. Dr Iyama, however said, paired against imports, Nigeria still had a long way to go.
Muda Yusuf, the director-general of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added that Nigeria was still largely import-dependent and needed to urgently diversify her economy. He observed that without oil, the country really had nothing significant to export.