A recent foreign trade report by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that Nigeria exported goods worth 7.41 trillion naira in the second quarter of 2022, representing a 47.5 percent increase from 5.02 trillion naira recorded in the corresponding period of 2021. Export value increased by 4.3 percent from 7.1 trillion naira recorded in Q1 2022. This is Nigeria’s highest export earnings to be recorded so far. And as a result, Nigeria’s trade balance increased to a surplus of N1.97 trillion, the highest since Q2 2018.

It is important to note that Nigeria’s improved export comes as the world experiences trade imbalances due to global challenges. Interestingly, Nigeria’s top export destinations have remained the same. About 39.8 percent of Nigeria’s exports by value went to European countries. While 34 percent went to Asia. Recurring partners in the past five years – India, Spain, and France – bought over a third of Nigeria’s exported products. Although there are some interesting new destinations like Australia, Nigeria continues to be a top import destination for some countries. Some of which have remained top trade partners for over 60 years. Here are the top countries Nigeria has developed a solid export partnership with year-on-year. 


India remains the top destination for Nigeria’s exports. In the last five years, no less than 14 percent of Nigeria’s total exports have gone to India. In the first half of this year, India imported over eight million dollar worth of products from Nigeria. That is about 14.85 percent of Nigeria’s total export. The export products have mostly remained crude petroleum and cashew nuts. India is the third largest importer of crude petroleum globally, importing 12 percent of its oil requirements from Nigeria. This makes India Nigeria’s largest export partner for crude petroleum.

This year, the Nigeria-India Business Council launched to expand and strengthen trade ties between the two countries. The council’s delegation is to explore new areas both countries can do business. Apart from crude, other top Nigerian exports to India include fruits, coffee, tea, date, spices, wood, leather, and urea. India and Nigeria have shared over 60 years of trade relations.


Spain is another top destination for Nigeria’s exports. Despite 2021 being a pandemic recovery year, Nigeria’s exports to Spain was worth 5.6 billion dollars. In the second quarter of 2020, Spain overtook India to become Nigeria’s top export destination. Though shortlived, Spain has since maintained a solid trade partnership with Nigeria. In the second quarter of 2022, total exports to Spain accounted for 13.98 percent.

Top export products to Spain include crude oil, mineral fuels, distillation products, raw hides and leather, cocoa, and liquified natural gas. Spain is the second biggest buyer of Nigeria’s crude after India. In 2018, the country bought crude worth N463bn and liquified natural gas worth N52.7bn. Spain imports similar products from countries like Mexico and Libya – where they import oil – and Ivory coast and Ghana- where they import cocoa.

The Netherlands

In the last 25 years, Nigeria’s exports to the Netherlands have increased at an annual rate of 7.61 percent. In the first quarter of 2018, the Netherlands surprisingly became a leading trade partner with 20.5 percent of total exports. 

Top export to the Netherlands includes natural gas (all forms), cocoa, crustaceans, ferrous waste, and scrap. However, Nigeria is not a top import partner for the Netherlands. For example, the Netherlands imports most of its petroleum gas from USA and Belgium. They also import mainly from Germany, Belgium, and France. Earlier this year, 34 Nigerian delegates met with the Netherlands government to deepen trade ties in areas of horticulture, circular economy, and renewable energy technologies.

South Africa

South Africa is one of the few African countries that has maintained a top export partnership with Nigeria. In 2020, only 8 percent of Nigeria’s total export went to other African countries. As of the second quarter of this year, that number stands at 6.28 percent. In the last 25 years, the exports of Nigeria to South Africa have increased at an annual rate of 25.6 percent, from $7.25 million to $2.17 billion in 2020. Although in the second quarter of 2022, Ivory Coast had more imports from Nigeria than S.Africa. South Africa maintained a top spot with $252.25 million worth of imports to stay on this list. 

Nigeria’s top export products to S.Africa include crude petroleum, fertilizers, rubber products, coffee, tea, and aluminium goods. However, S.Africa also imports crude petroleum from Saudi Arabia, Ghana, and United Arab Emirates. In April, President Ramaphosa of S.Africa visited Nigeria partly to revise the bilateral relations agreement between the two countries. It was also part of the effort to promote the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).


France is one of Nigeria’s long-lasting top export destinations. Although exports to France have experienced fluctuations, both countries have maintained strong trade relations. In 2014, Nigeria experienced one of its highest exports to France with $5.4 billion in product value. Then it declined to $3.2 billion in 2015. However, it picked up in 2017, averaging $4.4 billion between 2018 and 2019. Last year, 8.42% of Nigeria’s export went to France. In the last 25 years, Nigeria’s exports to France have increased at an annualized rate of 4.36%, from $680M in 1995 to $1.98B in 2020. In the second quarter of 2022, exports to France amounted to $701,139 million.

The main exports remain crude petroleum, petroleum gas, and soybean meal. In 2019, natural hydrocarbons and other extractive industries products accounted for 97% of Nigeria’s exports to France. Other top products include residues, waste from the food industry, animal fodder, rubber, plastics, cocoa, fish, oil seed, grain, and fruits. However, Nigeria has the potential to supply France with products across solid minerals, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and food processing. 

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