Nigeria's international trade presents in general an unusually favorable picture. The exports are a reasonably diversified group of products, the long-run markets for which seem well assured. The balance of payments has for a number of years shown a very substantial surplus, both over-all and with the dollar area, and Nigeria has acquired very considerable sterling balances. The burden of foreign indebtedness is light--in fact, Nigeria is at the moment a net creditor. Accordingly, as far as external payments are concerned, Nigeria is very well placed to proceed rapidly with development plans.
Nigerian exports have averaged over £ 100 million annually for the last five years. Although this is not a great volume of exports for a country with a population of over 30 million, it nevertheless establishes Nigeria as a world exporter of some importance. For example, its exports in the last five years were about equal in value to those of Turkey; they considerably exceed those of Uruguay and are 50% higher than the exports of Portugal.
Table 1 shows the value of Nigerian exports. Almost exactly half is represented by vegetable oil products--principally palm oil, palm kernels and groundnuts. Cocoa, the other major product, accounts for nearly one-quarter of total exports. Tin and columbite provide the largest share of the remainder.
The bulk of the agricultural exports is produced by small landholders and purchased by large expatriate companies as buying agents for the Marketing Boards. Palm products, groundnuts, cocoa and