Nigeria recorded a trade surplus of N2.42trn in the first quarter of the year as exports rose 14.2 per cent to N3.96trn compared with the previous quarter.
The latest Foreign Trade Statistics report just released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, showed that the value of imports within the same period dropped by 8.3 per cent to N1.54bn.
The report also showed that mineral products still accounted for N3.59trn or 90.7 per cent of the total export value in the first quarter of the year.
Analyst said this was indicative of the fact that policy reforms targeted at diversifying the nation’s economic base were yet to impact on the real sector.
The total value of Nigeria’s merchandise trade in the period stood at N5.51trn, representing a 6.8 per cent increase from the value of N5.16trn recorded in the preceding quarter (Q4, 2013).
A classification of the exports by sectors indicated that crude oil component continued to dominate export trade, contributing 81.5 per cent of total export trade value, with both crude and non-crude components remaining as key drivers of growth.
The NBS reported that the crude oil component of export trade grew by 8.4 per cent from the preceding quarter, and contributed up to 51.1 per cent of the total growth in exports, whereas the non-crude component of trade grew by 48.6 per cent, accounting for 48.9 per cent of the total export growth from the previous quarter lower than the value of in the preceding quarter.
Other significant categories of the export trade structure showed that boilers, machinery and chemical appliances, valued at N92.2bn or 2.3 per cent of the total, and vehicles, aircraft and associated parts valued at N89.6bn, also 2.3 per cent of the total.
By individual product, natural liquefied gas held the second highest exports value, with N330bn or 8.3 per cent of the total during the period under review.
On the import side, the structure showed that imports trade was dominated by boilers, machinery and appliances, which accounted for 23.7 per cent.
Items that contributed notably to the value of import trade in the quarter were mineral products, which accounted for 16 per cent, vehicles, aircraft and associated parts, 13 per cent, base metals and articles of base metals, 9.5 per cent and products of the chemical and allied industries, 8.5 per cent.
The NBS stated: “Import trade classified by Broad Economic Category revealed that industrial supplies not elsewhere classified had the greatest value with N435.3bn or 28.2 per cent of total imports. This was followed by capital goods and parts, with the value of N344.4bn or 22.3 per cent and transport equipment and parts, with N222.6bn or 14.4 per cent of the total import value.
“At the product level, motor spirit holds the greatest value of imports, at N192.5bn or 12.5 per cent of total imports for the first quarter of 2014. This was followed by spelt, common wheat and meslin with N54.2bn or 3.5 per cent, and machine tools for working stone, ceramics, concrete etc, with N46.5bn, or three per cent of the total value of imports.”
Analysts at Standard Chartered Bank however noted that the naira remain under pressure despite the trade surplus and also despite a rise in crude oil exports, “reflecting sentimentdriven outflows.”
They however pointed out that the nation’s ‘foreign reserves have since seen some recovery due to improved sentiment and restrictions imposed on the bureaux de change segment of the foreign exchange market.
Razia Khan, Managing Director, Head, Africa Macro, Global Research at Standard Chartered pointed out in a note to investors that “while officials suggest that the rise in FX reserves is because of continued recovery in crude exports, we believe that improved sentiment towards Nigeria, some recovery in risk appetite, and increased inflows have played a key role.
“The reduction in BDC activity given the increased capital requirement for this sector, and consequent reduction in local FX demand, has also helped the recovery in FX reserves.”