The first quarter trade statistics have shown that Nigeria’s non-oil imports by sea surpassed exports by over 463 per cent. This is despite government’s efforts in the last four years to diversify the economy from oil (Nigeria’s major revenue source) to non-oil revenue sources.
Also, Nigeria’s total merchandise trade by sea declined by N411.4bn in the first quarter against the value obtained in the fourth quarter of 2018. Data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the total non-oil sector merchandise trade by sea was N3.10tn in the first quarter of 2019 against N2.10tn recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Further breakdown showed that between January and March 2019, Nigeria traded in agricultural goods worth N322.3bn (exports, N86.1bn; Imports, N236.3bn); raw materials goods N366.5bn (exports, N36.4bn; Imports, N330.08bn); solid mineral goods N26.8bn (exports, N8.99bn; Imports, N17.8bn); energy goods N10.7bn (exports, N10.6bn; imports, N32.1m) and manufactured goods N3.3tn (exports, N462.3bn; imports, N2.7tn).
Comparatively, in the last quarter of 2018, Nigeria traded in agricultural goods worth N316.5bn (exports N97.7bn; imports, N218.8bn); raw material goods worth N350.3bn (exports, N40.8bn; imports, N309.6bn); solid mineral goods worth N25.3bn (exports, N7.7bn, imports, N17.6bn) energy goods worth N10. 81bn, (exports, N10.76bn; imports, N40.3m) and manufactured goods worth N2.3tn (exports, N75.6bn; imports, N2.2tn).
The value of imported non-oil products for Q4 2018 was N2.8tn while export was N232.6bn. The value of non-oil export for Q1 was N604.4bn, higher than the export for Q4 of 2018 by N371.9bn,(162 per cent). The value of non-oil imports for Q1 was N3.4tn. Nevertheless, non-oil import for the first quarter (N3.4tn) was higher than export (N604.4bn) by N2.8tn.
The same pattern was observed in Q3 2018. The non-oil export value in Q3 2018 was N163.3bn while import was N3.15tn(a difference of N2.99tn, or 1,828.97 per cent). For merchandise trade by sea, in the first quarter N7.9tn was recorded against N8.3tn recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018, a decline of N411.4bn quarter by quarter.
A breakdown of the merchandise trade by sea indicated that export in the first quarter was N4.5tn, (99.1 per cent of total exports) while import was N3.4tn. In the fourth quarter of 2018, value of export was N4.99tn while import was N3.3tn. Also, further analysis of the data showed that reduced oil export and price in the first quarter accounted for the difference in merchandise trade by sea between the fourth quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2019.
In Q4 2018, crude oil export value was N4.2tn while in Q1 2019, crude oil export value was N3.4tn. Other petroleum oil product export value in Q4 2018 was N1.4tn, while in Q1 2019, it totalled N900.7bn. The volume of crude oil export also differed during the two quarters under review.
According to data from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Y-Charts, Nigeria exported 1.99 million barrels of crude oil in January 2019, 1.98 million barrels in February and 2.01 million barrels in March. In the last three months of 2018; October, November and December, the country exported 2.09 million, 1.98 million and 2.08 million barrels of crude oil respectively. The price of crude oil also varied during the two quarters under review.
Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that price of crude oil in 2019 was $60.39 per barrel in January, $64.89 in February and $67.67 in March. In 2018, crude oil prices per barrel in October, November and December were $79.18, $ $66.59 and $62 respectively.
Commenting on the improvement in the performance of the non-oil exports in the first quarter, the President, Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association, Dr Victor Iyama, attributed it to increased participation in the non-oil export sector, increase in the channel of official declaration of exports as well as seasonal crops.
He 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, the importers and investors foreign exchange window for the improvement. He, however said, paired against exports; Nigeria still had a long way to go. The Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Muda Yusuf, supported this view, saying 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. He said, “The gap between non-oil exports and imports is always very wide. Oil revenue is what is covering our balance of payment position. “That is why we are talking about diversifying the economy so that we can export more.”
He added, “It still boils down to the capacity of the economy to produce competitively so that our products can be attractive for both local consumption and exports. “So far our productive capacity is still weak. Most of the companies that can produce for local consumption and for export are finding it difficult to cope with the harsh operating environment in Nigeria.” According to him, many industries are not really surviving in the real sense of it. He added that most of them were surviving on imports.