NIGERIANigeria’s agricultural imports declined by 11 percent from N738 billion imported in Q1 to N664 billion in Q2 2015, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its latest foreign trade reports.

A total of N664 billion worth of agricultural products was imported into the country in the second quarter of 2015, according to the report.

“The value of Nigeria’s total imports stood at N1.5 trillion at the end of Q2, 2015, a decrease of N385 billion or 14 percent from N1.7 trillion recorded in the preceding quarter. On year-on-year basis, the value of the country’s imports lowered by N484.0 billion or 24.5 percent,” the report said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) restricted importers of listed agricultural items from accessing foreign exchange from the official market, stating that the denial was to encourage local production, create jobs and cut down the undue pressure on the country’s almost depleted foreign reserves.

Rice, palm kernel, vegetable oil, processed meat products, vegetable and processed vegetable products, poultry-chicken and eggs were some of the agricultural products that were banned from accessing forex.

The statistical agency said “relative to the preceding quarter, a rise of N214.1 billion or 8.0 percent in the value of exports combined with a decline of N234.4 billion or 13.6 percent in the value of imports improved the country’s trade balance, which increased by 47.9 percent or N448.6 billion during the quarter.”

Nigeria imported goods mostly from China, United States, India, Belgium and Netherlands, which respectively accounted for N336.5 billion or 22.5 percent, N143.6 billion or 9.6 percent, N115.4 billion or 7.7 percent, N83.4billion or 5.6 percent and N80.9billion or 5.4 percent of the total value of goods imported during the quarter.

By Continent, Nigeria consumed goods largely from Asia, with an import value of N665.7 billion or 44.6 percent of the quarterly total. The country also imported goods valued at N502.3 billion or 33.6 percent of the total from Europe, and N210.1 billion or 14.1 percent of the total from The Americas.

Imports from Africa stood at N97.8 billion or 6.5 percent of total imports, while imports from the region of ECOWAS amounted to N39.0 billion, 39.9 percent of total African imports

The ongoing transformation in the agricultural sector has attracted investments, which have helped in reducing the country’s food import bill in the past three years.

According to the report, boilers, machinery and appliances recorded the highest import value in the agricultural products with N356.0 billion or 23.8 percent of the total value of imports in Q2, 2015 followed by Mineral products with N173.9 billion or 11.6 percent.

The total value of Nigeria’s merchandise trade during Q2 2015, was recorded at N4, 372.4 billion. This was 0.5 percent less than the value of N4, 392.7 billion recorded in the preceding quarter.

In comparison with the corresponding quarter of 2014, the value of the total merchandise trade decreased by N2, 287.0 billion or 34.3 percent.

The value of Nigeria’s exports totaled N2, 879.2 billion in Q2, 2015, an increase of N214.1billion or 8.0 percent over the value recorded in the preceding quarter, yet a decline of N1, 803.0 million or 38.5 percent year on year.

September 4, 2015;