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UNCTAD publishes handbook of statistics 2011

18 December 2011

Large range of data tracks trade, economic performance, and development progress

Geneva, 19 December 2011 - UNCTAD has released its Handbook of Statistics 2011(1), a wide-ranging survey of numerical information on international trade flows, commodity prices, maritime transport, and the economic performances of developing countries.

Large-scale trends revealed by the publication include volatile prices for commodities since the turn of the Millennium and long-term economic gains by several developing nations - from 1981 to 2010, for example, China´s share of world exports in goods and services grew by over 8 percentage points, and its share of global gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by nearly 7 percentage points. Over the same period, the United States´ share of world exports in goods declined by 3.5 percentage points and its portion of global GDP fell by nearly 2.5 percentage points. The countries of the European Union saw a decline in services export share of 8 percentage points for the period. (See chart below.) These statistics provide evidence of the growing prominence of developing economies in the global economy. (see figure)

The black vertical line shows values for exports in goods (top), goods and services (circle) and services (bottom). The label in italics indicates the reverse: exports in services is shown on the top instead of on the bottom.

The Handbook also shows that commodity price indices displayed record volatility from 2001 through 2010, climbing at an annual average rate of 12.2% per year. That was a sharp change from the two preceding decades, when they increased by only 0.5% per year (1981 to 1990) and fell by 1.3% per year (1991 through 2000). The price of rice, the most important staple food for a large part of the world´s population, showed the sharpest increases between 2001 and 2010, climbing by an average of 15% per year. This and much other information on commodity prices can be found in Section 4 of the Handbook.

Figures for 2009-2010 also show that developing countries account for large proportions of world exports of a number of commodities and products, such as fixed vegetable fat and oil (88.7% of world exports); copper ores and concentrates (79.1%); female clothing, knitted and crocheted (75.9%); crude petroleum and bituminous oil (71.4%); and woven cotton fabrics (71.3%).

Overall, the Handbook provides a broad range of statistics covering individual countries, regions, various economic groupings and the world at large. It is meant to provide essential data for analysing and measuring world trade, investment, international financial flows and development. Among the topics covered:

  • International merchandise trade and international trade in services;
  • Commodity prices, including long-term series and calculations on volatility of prices;
  • The world merchant shipping fleet;
  • International financial performance, including current account balances, foreign direct investment, migrants´ remittances, international reserves of developing economies, official financial flows, and external long-term debt; and
  • Development indicators linked to national accounts such as GDP, population figures, and labor force.

Official statistics on merchandise trade by partner and product are normally never entirely complete because statistical capacities vary from country to country. UNCTAD, to the extent possible, furnishes estimates to fill in data gaps and provide comprehensive datasets for analysis.

The Handbook is available in printed copies and on DVD. In addition, the underlying data of the Handbook are available online at UNCTADstat (http://unctadstat.unctad.org). UNCTADstat is continuously updated and provides the latest available information.


Tables and figures

Figure 1: Change in world exports and GDP shares in period ´81-´10 for selected economies

Figure 1: Change in world exports and GDP shares in period ´81-´10 for selected economies
Source: UNCTAD calculation based on UNCTADstat.


1.The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2011 (Sales No. B.11.II.D.1, ISBN: 978-92-1-112829-1) may be obtained from United Publications Sales and Marketing Office at the address mentioned below or from United Nations sales agents throughout the world. Price: US$ 130 (50% discount for residents of developing countries, and 75% discount for residents of least developed countries). Orders or queries should be sent to: United Publications Sales and Marketing Office, 300 E 42nd Street, 9th Floor, IN-919J New York, NY 10017, United States. tel.: +1 212 963 8302, fax: +1 212 963 3489, e-mail: publications@un.org https://unp.un.org.

For more information, please contact:
UNCTAD Communications and Information Unit
T: +41 22 917 5828
T: +41 79 502 43 11
E: unctadpress@unctad.org
Web: www.unctad.org/press


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