Nigeria’s trade account turned positive in 2017 as a rise in oil exports outweighed imports after dollar shortages frustrated transactions, the National Bureau of Statistics said.
The balance of trade last year was N4.03tn ($13.2bn). The net trade balance stood at minus N290bn for 2016.
The rise boosts the Federal Government’s ambition to promote exports to support its fragile economy and earn foreign exchange while reducing imports, according to a Reuters report.
The 2017 Gross Domestic Product rose by 0.8 per cent to emerge from the country’s first recession in 25 years.
Nigeria, which faced exchange rate crisis in 2016 as oil revenues fell, has been trying to diversify the economy away from oil, boost local production and generate non-oil exports.
But the country needs to build infrastructure such as roads and rails to help boost non-oil exports.
The NBS said oil and gas exports accounted for more than 93 per cent of exports in the fourth quarter, with cocoa bean exports, largely to the Netherlands, Malaysia and Indonesia, making up 0.37 per cent.
The manufacturing capacity is limited, so the country imports most of what it consumes.
Fourth-quarter imports dipped by 8.5 per cent from the previous year to N2.11tn, the statistics bureau said.
But exports more than compensated, jumping by 31.3 per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier to N3.91tn, the NBS said.
The trade balance for the fourth quarter more than doubled to N1.8tn from a year earlier.