Nigeria's trade deficit widened significantly as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic began to be felt around the world, according to new figures.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics' Foreign Trade in Goods Statistics report showed the gap increased to 1.8 trillion Nigerian Naira (€3.9 trillion) in the second quarter of this year, up from just N138.98 billion in the first.
This represented an increase of 92 per cent and meant the nation spent considerably more importing goods than it had earned from exports.
In the first quarter, Nigeria's imports reached N4.2 trillion while exports hit N4.08 trillion. By the second quarter, total exports were N2.21 trillion and imports were nearly double that at N4.02 trillion.
Furthermore, external trade recorded a 27.3 per cent decline during the period under review, the statistics agency said.
In total, exports from the African country during the second quarter of this year were down 51.73 per cent when compared with the same period in 2019.
Energy goods were found to have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with imports in this field rising by a staggering 591 per cent in quarter two when compared to quarter one, as well as by 129 per cent year-on-year.
The value of imported agricultural goods also rose by 59 per cent, with imports of raw materials going up 85 per cent compared to the previous quarter.
This marks the third consecutive quarter of negative trade balance and raises concerns that the country could face the same economic hardship it last saw in 2016.
In its report, the National Bureau of Statistics listed China, the US, India, the Netherlands and Germany as Nigeria's major trading partners, with Spain receiving the highest percentage of its exports at 14 per cent.
Many of these countries have been hit especially hard by coronavirus and have been forced to implement strict lockdown measures, meaning they are unlikely to have been spending as much on Nigerian products.
Nigeria is also still dependent on oil, so the crash in global oil prices due to the travel industry grinding almost to a halt will have negatively affected trade there.