Welcome from Marco Forgione - Director General, Institute of Export & International Trade

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This Doing Business with Nigeria Guide is designed to signpost opportunities for trade with one of the world’s most promising economies and Africa’s largest country by population.

The timing of this guide coincides with the UK swiftly developing new business partnerships as an independent trading nation, having left the EU customs union and single market at the end of 2020. Trade agreements have been signed with 11 African countries to date.

When it comes to Nigeria, statistics suggest that there are tremendous partnership opportunities for UK businesses.

Nigeria’s population of 200 million+ people is one of the youngest in the world. The Nigerian economy is Africa’s largest, its strategic location making it the economic hub for 15 smaller West African markets. Lagos is a star in Africa’s budding fintech sector, with start-ups now attracting local as well as overseas investment.

Strong trade ties

While UK talks with Nigeria on reaching a trade agreement are ongoing, commercial ties are already strong, not least because of our long historical connection and Nigeria’s membership of the Commonwealth.

Indeed, as I write this foreword in May 2021, the UK’s Minister for Africa, James Duddridge MP, has just visited Nigeria for high-level trade and humanitarian discussions.

The minister’s conclusion? That given existing bonds of shared heritage and language – English is the language of Nigerian business – the UK Government finds trading with Nigeria “easier than with many other countries around the world”.

Trade goodwill between the two nations is gathering pace. Imports from Nigeria to the UK, for example, already enjoy reduced rates of duty under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP).

As for trade in the other direction, Nigeria is the second largest African market for UK goods (UN Comtrade 2019) and in the year to June 2019, total UK exports to Nigeria amounted to £2.7 billion, up 15.9% on the previous year (ONS 2019). 


We should not deny the big challenges to doing business with Nigeria. For example, the World Bank’s most recent report (November 2020) on Nigeria points out that the country is highly vulnerable to global economic disruption caused by Covid-19, particularly due to a sharp decline in oil prices and spikes in risk aversion in global capital markets.

However, with Nigeria’s strategy to loosen its dependence on oil exports, the omens for UK exporters are good. UK brands are well known and in demand, with opportunities across agriculture, education and training, energy, financial services, technology, infrastructure and transport.

Training’s key role

The IOE&IT is playing its part in accelerating UK-Nigeria trade by helping ensure compliance with the intricacies of African customs and trade procedures through training partnerships.

To this end, IOE&IT qualifications have been adopted by the United Nations-sponsored International Trade Centre as part of its online Diploma in International Trade, aimed at developing economies such as Nigeria.

Future IOE&IT partnerships will support the landmark African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the agreement implemented in January 2021 between 54 African nations, including Nigeria, aimed at removing tariffs on 90% of goods.

As we work with local partners to professionalise trade across Africa, we publish this guide as another important step in encouraging UK companies to enter the Nigerian market as it unlocks post-Covid economic prosperity.


Marco Forgione
Director General - Institute of Export & International Trade



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