THE nation’s export between January and May this year was dominated by charcoal and agricultural produce, a trade report by Maersk Nigeria Limited has shown.

The report showed that Nigeria’s charcoal export rose by 76 percent as of May 2013, when compared to the same period in 2012, and further attributed the rise in volume to the longer winter season experienced in Europe. The trade report which quoted the company’s Managing Director and Head of Central and West Africa Cluster, Mr. Jan Thorhauge, noted that finished product import rose by 39 percent during the same period due to major manufacturing firms streamlining their production activities by making Nigeria their main production hub for the region.

Thorhauge said that containerised import market to Nigeria was estimated to have ended at approximately 159,000 FFE (40-foot equivalent units), as compared with the same period in 2012, which produced an estimated volume of 155,000 FFE, representing a relatively marginal year on year growth of around two percent. The Maersk boss also said that the Eastern Nigerian market, maintained its superior performance over the western part of the country, in terms of growth in volume ratio with a year on year growth ratio of 10 percent on import and one percent on export.

Thorhauge said that Maersk Line maintained its position as the leading shipping line in Nigeria, and combined with its sister company Safmarine, commanded an estimated 37 percent share of the import market and 28 percent on the export market.

“Not much has changed as the containerised market in Nigeria continues to be strongly dominated by imports, and for the last six years, the import/export ratio has remained at around 92 percent import versus eight percent export”.

According to Thorhauge, most of the country’s containerised cargoes come from the Far East, mostly China, while most of its export commodities have been going to Europe.

“The sourcing patterns have not changed fundamentally in the last six years, though imports from Europe and Middle East have experienced significant increase in the last two years. Major products coming from the Middle East are industrial raw materials, chemicals, electronics, iron and steel and tyres, while from Europe, major products include industrial raw materials, frozen fish and cars,” he said.

The increased sourcing pattern can be attributed to better pricing from these regions, increase in the age limits of imported automobiles from 5 years to 10 years, increased construction as well as growing demands for finished products by the Nigerian populace.

He also said that Nigeria’s export ratio can be enhanced if the government is able to improve on infrastructure, such as power supply, road network and rail services.

The dominant items imported into the country, according to Thorhauge, have remained the same over the past six years and are made up of traditional commodities such as cars, electronics, construction materials, food items, chemicals, electrical fittings, machinery and paper among other goods covering industrial as well as private needs.

“We are quite optimistic that the import market in Nigeria will grow by about 6-8 percent for the second half of 2013. The export market is subject to harvest conditions and global market prices, but we foresee an increase of about eight percent for the rest of the year.

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