Report Shows ‘Traditional Commodities’ Dominated Imports In 2012

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A report released by Maersk Nigeria Ltd has shown that traditional commodities including electronics, cars, food items, chemicals, machinery and paper among other goods covering industrial needs and private consumption remained the dominant items imported into Nigeria in 2012.

The Trade Report released by Maersk Nigeria Limited in Lagos on Monday further indicated that agricultural products including cocoa, cashew nuts, sesame and cotton dominated the list of containerized commodities exported from Nigeria.

“We see very few finished products being exported,” Managing Director of Maersk Nigeria Limited and Head of the Central West Africa Cluster, Mr. Jan Thorhauge, said.

Thorhauge said that the 2012 containerised import market to Nigeria was estimated to have ended at 383,000 40-foot equivalent units, which would represent a relatively marginal year on year four per cent growth, against the significant 22 per cent increase observed in 2011 over 2010 .

“The East Nigerian market outperformed West Nigeria in terms of growth in percentage terms. While the first half of 2012 saw the import market remain above the 2011 level, this changed during the second half of the year where volumes dropped and for the last five months of the year were consistently below the same period in 2011,” he said.

Thorhauge said that Maersk Line maintained its position as the leading shipping line into Nigeria and – combined with its sister company, Safmarine – command an estimated 38 per cent share of the import market and 32 per cent on the export market.

On Nigeria’s trade balance, he said: “The containerised market in Nigeria continues to be strongly dominated by imports, and since 2007 the import/export ratio has remained at around 92 per cent import versus eight per cent export. At 7.8 per cent in 2012 this was, however, the lowest export ratio recorded during this period. Nigeria would be able to positively influence this ratio if obstacles such as unreliable power supply and poor road and rail infrastructure were improved.”

In terms of sourcing, he said that Nigeria still imports most of the containerised cargo from the Far East, and China in particular.
The Maersk Nigeria Chief Executive said that the sourcing patterns had not changed fundamentally in the last five years even though imports from Europe are seeing a downward trend.

“Our expectations for the 2013 import market are conservatively optimistic, and we expect the market to grow 6-8 per cent. The export market is subject to harvest conditions and global market prices, but we foresee an increase of 8-10 per cent in 2013,” Thorhauge said.

He went on: “Forecasting in general in Nigeria remains a challenge and 2013 is no different. The market development will – as always – depend heavily on unpredictable macro-economic factors as well as stable oil prices and oil production, security issues in Northern Nigeria, stability in Eastern Nigeria, rate of exchange fluctuations for the Naira, among others.”

He said that most of the terminals in Nigeria have made major investments in 2012 in terms of infrastructure, container handling equipment and terminal management software stating that these investments, along with the dampened market, have resulted in Lagos ports – for the first time in many years – being congestion-free for an unprecedented nine months in a row.

“APMT Apapa has in early 2013 initiated the final phase of their expansion plans, and both TICT and Ports and Cargo Handling Services are today operating almost entirely with RTG’s (rubber tyred gantry cranes), which has dramatically increased the yard capacity. The average dwelltime days (the time spent between a container being discharged and leaving the terminal) has also gone down by around 40 per cent.

“Irrespective of these improvements, it is expected that the terminal capacity in Lagos ports will be fully utilized within the coming years, and it is essential that steps are taken to find new terminal capacity in order to keep up with Nigeria’s economic growth. Poor road infrastructure outside the terminals and lacking rail services also remain a concern.

“From a Maersk Line perspective, we continue to offer a combination of direct services from the Far East, as well our relay products from the Western Mediterranean, and, today, Maersk Line has seven weekly calls in the largest Nigerian ports.

The 4,500 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent) WAFMAX vessels we deployed in 2011/2012 remain the by far largest container vessels calling Nigeria. The WAFMAX vessels initially only called the port of Apapa, and their deployment will in 2013 be expanded to include other ports in Nigeria,” Thorhauge said.

Maersk Line, which accounts for 14 per cent of all global container trade by sea, emerged from a pricing war in 2012 after making a US$553 million loss in 2011.

The largest division within the AP Moller-Maersk Group, representing 44 per cent of total group revenues of US$59 billion in 2012, posted a profit of US$461 million in the face of all-time high bunker prices with the second half performance improving thanks to significant cost reductions and rate increases.

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