Nigeria flag Nigeria: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Nigeria

Foreign Trade in Figures

Nigeria is open to trade, which accounted for 25% of Nigeria's GDP in 2020 (World Bank). The objective of Nigeria's trade policy is to promote and diversify its exports by reinforcing national competitiveness and encouraging liberalization through the reduction of subsidies. The country mainly exports petroleum oils (75.4% of total exports), petroleum gas (12.9%) and boats (6.2%); and it imports machinery (18.6% of total imports), petroleum oils (15.3%), vehicles (10.1%), electrical machinery (7%), pharmaceutical products (5.4%), plastics (4.5%) and cereals (4.2%) (ITC, 2020).

Nigeria's main export partners are India (15% of total exports), Spain (10.9%), the Netherlands (8.6%), South Africa (7.6%), China (5.1%) and France (4.5%). Its main suppliers are China (28.8% of total imports), the United States (9.1%), India (7.9%), the Netherlands (7.8%), Belgium (3.8%) and Germany (3.1%) (ITC, 2020). Nigeria has signed trade agreements with a number of countries in Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the European Union. In 2019, Nigeria also signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which is expected to boost the non-oil sector. Raw materials and semi-finished goods benefit from reductions in customs tariffs, even if the country remains protectionist in certain sectors such as agriculture. There are currently more than 40 free trade zones and 8 more are under construction. Lingering barriers to trade and investment persist in the country, mainly due to long bureaucratic delays.

Nigeria’s trade balance is structurally positive, but it occasionally turns negative when oil prices and production drop. According to World Bank data, in 2020 the trade balance registered a deficit of USD -16.4 billion, due to the combined impacts of the Covid-19 crisis and the oil price shock. Exports of goods amounted to USD 35.6 billion, whereas imports reached USD 55.4 billion (WTO). Exports of services amounted to USD 3.5 billion, while imports reached USD 19.6 billion (WTO). Imports of goods and services decreased by -23.3% compared to 2019, while exports decreased by -27% (World Bank). Economic recovery and higher oil revenues resulted in a trade surplus in 2021. As imports are expected to be constrained and oil sales to boom, trade surplus is set to widen in 2022 (Coface).

Foreign Trade Values 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 39,00031,27343,00755,25755,390
Exports of Goods (million USD) 32,80044,46860,54762,53135,634
Imports of Services (million USD) 12,31817,97330,62538,45219,598
Exports of Services (million USD) 3,7184,5414,3514,4863,533

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 20.726.333.034.025.4
Trade Balance (million USD) -53613,14820,4672,868-16,402
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -8,551-86-5,599-30,893-32,241
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -10.44.849.227.3-23.3
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 11.58.7-1.415.0-27.0
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 11.513.217.519.816.6
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) -9.70.0-1.1-2.0-0.5
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) -1.0-1.90.7-3.2-4.7

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

International Economic Cooperation
Member of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Member of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

Member of African Union (AU)

The country has signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP).


To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

Return to top

Any Comment About This Content? Report It to Us.


© Export Entreprises SA, All Rights Reserved.
Latest Update: July 2022

Return to top