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2008 Statistics Handbook provides background for global economic situation

28 July 2008

Trade growth of "South" continued through 2007, but developed countries still dominated exports of merchandise and services

The sub-prime mortgage crisis, the food crisis, the climbing cost of oil, concerns about inflation, and worries about a global economic slowdown -- issues that have taken the foreground in 2008 can be seen against the statistical background of 2007 in the latest UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics(1).

The handbook, released today, shows that while the sub-prime crisis in industrialized nations took hold in 2007, global merchandise exports for the year increased by 14.4%. That included a 15.2% increase for developing countries. Worldwide services exports climbed by 18.1% in 2007, with the services exports of developing countries increasing by a similar 18.1%.

Reflecting the concerns of UNCTAD experts and others who have long urged the world´s poorer nations to diversify their economies so that they are less vulnerable to shifts in world markets, the 2007 data show a continued long-term trend towards concentration of exports. While developing countries sold many products and services overseas, an increasing amount of the value of these exports came from a limited number of goods.

The handbook´s statistics show that for several countries, such as Haiti and Nepal, remittances from citizens working overseas exceeded those countries´ exports of goods and services in 2007.

Emerging economies are frequently in the spotlight, but overall, industrialized nations continued to dominate global economic activity. They accounted for 71% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007, although they had only 15% of the world´s population. They were responsible for 58.6% of the value of merchandise exports for the year, and for 71.9% of services exports. On the other hand, the rate of growth of exports of goods and services in 2007 was slightly higher for developing countries than for developed countries.

This year´s handbook provides a broad range of statistics covering individual countries, regions, and the world at large. Among the topics covered are:

  • International merchandise trade, with the most recent 2007 data available, including breakdowns of exports and imports for major products
  • International trade in services
  • Commodity prices, including long-term series and calculations on the instability of prices, and a special focus given to the production and consumption of aluminium and copper
  • International finance, with balance-of-payments statistics and special attention to foreign direct investment (FDI), workers´ remittances, international reserves, official financial flows, and external debt -- all topics of major importance
  • Development indicators linked to national accounts and population data.

The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics is available in three complementary formats. DVD and on-line versions provide detailed information and long-term series that allow users to consult, extract, and integrate data. The printed version of the Handbook offers a selection of the information that is electronically available, along with derived indicators such as shares and growth rates that allow readers easily to find and summarize the contents of tables.


1. UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2008 (Sales No. E/F.08.II.D.18, ISBN 978-92-1-012069-2) may be obtained from UN sales offices at the addresses below or from UN sales agents in many countries. Price US$ 115.00, and at a special price of US$ 57.50 in developing countries and countries in transition, and US$ 28.75 in least developed countries. Please send orders or enquiries for Europe, Africa and Western Asia to United Nations Publication/Sales Section, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, fax: +41 22 917 0027, e-mail: ; and for the Americas and Eastern Asia, to United Nations Publications, Two UN Plaza, DC2-853, New York, NY 10017, USA, tel: +1 212 963 8302 or +1 800 253 9646, fax: +1 212 963 3489, e-mail: . Internet:

For more information, please contact:
UNCTAD Press Office
T: +41 22 917 5828


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