Nigeria records N8.9tn trade deficit in nine months, expert blames insecurity

nbs National Bureau of Statistics

Nigeria recorded a negative trade balance of N8.9tn, between January and September 2021, data from the National Bureau of Statistics have shown.

Within this period, total foreign trade stood at N35.09tn, comprising N22tn imports and N13.1tn exports, leading to an N8.9tn trade deficit.

A breakdown of the trade data by quarters shows that Nigeria’s total merchandise trade stood at N9.76tn in the first quarter of the year representing a 6.99 percent increase over the value recorded in Q4 2020.

The export component of this trade stood at N2.91tn, representing 29.79 percent of the total trade in Q1 while import was valued at N6.85tn representing 70.21 percent.

The higher level of imports over exports resulted in a trade deficit (in goods) of N3.94tn in Q1 2021.

The value of crude oil export stood at N1.93tn representing 66.38 percent of the total export recorded in Q1, 2021, while non-crude oil export accounted for 33.62 percent of the total export.

Data from the Bureau showed that the majority of the goods imported during this period originated from China, valued at N2tn, followed by the Netherlands (N726.09bn), the United States (N608.12bn), India (N589.1bn), and Belgium (N238.5bn).

Similarly, Nigeria’s top export trade partners in Q1 were India (N488.1bn), Spain (N287.2bn), China (N190.1bn), the Netherlands (, and France (N133bn).

However, in the second quarter of the year, Nigeria’s trade deficit fell to N1.87tn as exports jumped to N5.08tn against imports of N6.95tn.

The value of imports and exports in Q2 brought total merchandise trade to N12.03tn, representing a 23.28 percent increase from the N9.7tn recorded in Q1.

The NBS said crude oil, the major component of export trade, stood at N4.08tn (80.29 percent) of total export.

It further said crude oil value had a sharp increase of 111.32 percent in Q2 compared to the N1.93tn recorded in Q1 2021, while the non-crude oil goods recorded N1tn (19.71 percent) of total export trade during Q2 2021.

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Further analysis of data from the bureau shows that the majority of imported goods in Q2 2021 originated from China with a value of N2.08tn, followed by India with N570.01bn, Netherlands (N557.15bn), United States (N526.92bn), and Russia (N284.36bn).

Meanwhile, most goods were exported to India (949.05bn), Spain (N524.49bn), Canada (N355.60bn), Netherlands (N298.29bn), and the United States (N256.63bn).

The NBS on Monday revealed that Nigeria’s trade deficit rose to N3.03tn in the third quarter of the year.

According to the Statistician-General of the Federation, Simon Harry, who disclosed this in a press briefing held in Abuja, total trade in the review period rose to N13.3tn, comprising N8.2tn imports and N5.1tn exports.

The NBS noted that the rise in imports was driven majorly by an increase in the importation of commodities such as motor spirits (N1.1tn), Gas Oil (N225.6bn), imported motorcycles, and cycles, and CKD valued at N116.3bn from N94.7bn respectively.

“Comparing 3rd quarter to 2nd quarter, 2021, total trade grew by 10.43 percent from N12,029.64bn, export trade grew by 1.00 percent from N5,079.44bn, import trade also grew by 17.32 percent from N6,950.21bn,” Harry said.

He stated that crude oil dominated export trade in Q3, as total export of the commodity amounted to N4tn or 78.47 percent of total export.

He added, “This was followed by natural gas, liquefied with N487.49bn (9.50 percent), floating or submersible drilling platforms with N163.70bn (3.19 percent) and urea, whether or not in aqueous solution with N107.17bn (2.08 percent).

“On the other hand, imports were mainly motor spirit valued at N 1,052.5bn (12.91 percent), Durum wheat valued at N 315.17bn (3.87 percent), gas oil with N225.63bn (2.77 percent), Used Vehicles N185.41bn (2.27 percent).

The NBS also listed China (2.4tn), India (N710.3bn), the United States (N599.1bn), Netherlands (N554.2bn), and Belgium (N434.1bn) as Nigeria’s top five import trade partners during the review period.

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Similarly, “The top five major trading partners in export trade during the 3rd Quarter, 2021 were India with N758.1bn, Spain with N627.01bn, Italy with N446.04bn, France with N363.23bn and Netherlands with N242.49bn.

 Insecurity, lack of domestic production fueling trade deficit – Utomi

A renowned economist and a former presidential candidate, Pat Utomi, who spoke on the N8.9tn trade deficit, attributed the country’s huge appetite for imports to insufficient domestic production driven by worsening insecurity and stringent government regulations.

 He said while there were many interventions being introduced by the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to reduce imports and shore up exports, most of the initiatives were fraught with inconsistencies and corrupt practices which prevent real impact.

He said, “You will notice that Nigeria’s top imports which are food products and motor spirits are things that we should be exporting because we are a food-producing nation and we have oil in abundance. This is scandalous.

“But the reason this is so is simple; firstly, access to farms is problematic. I am in the agriculture value chain business and farmers say to us ‘we can’t supply to you, because we are afraid to go to our farms’. So the insecurity contributes significantly to poor farm output.

“Beyond insecurity, government regulations and policies also hinder production in various sectors.”

He added that the Nigerian environment made production difficult and the small money that came from oil was used to import goods for consumption.

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By Amos Kalu
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