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11 July 2007

The new edition of the Handbook of Statistics(1), made public by the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) today, provides information on the latest trends in globalization in the fields of international trade in goods and services, international financial flows and commodity prices.

The Handbook indicates that world foreign trade turnover in goods in 2006 exceeded US$ 12 trillion, which represents an overall average of $1,850 per capita. However, there are considerable variations from one continent to another. For example, per capita exports were less than $300 in Africa, as compared to a little more than $10,000 in Europe. Although the expansion of trade is stronger in developing countries than in developed countries, the different levels of participation in world trade indicate that the gap between the developed and the developing countries is still far from being closed.

More comprehensive than previous versions, the new Handbook incorporates initial results for 2006. These data supplement the statistical series that UNCTAD calculates for long periods, some of which go back as far as 1948. These series are comparable from country to another and are particularly useful for making structural analyses.

The new version of the Handbook of Statistics, which is available in printed or electronic form (DVD and Internet), is also more practical. Owing to its harmonized presentation, it allows the reader to discover many facts at a glance or a click:

  • Significant advances in 2006 in the export of goods (17.6%) and services (12.9%) by the developing countries, but at a less sustained pace than in the previous two years;
  • Steady progress in the share of regional trade in the overall trade in goods. However, there are still considerable variations. For example, in 2005, intraregional trade rose to two thirds of the total trade of the European Union, to 26% of the trade of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to 13% for the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and only 9% for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS);
  • South-South trade is increasing, mainly owing to flows to or from Asia, and particularly among Asian countries:
    • In 1995, of the total of $1,400 billion in exports to the countries of the South, 40% came from other developing countries, including 2% from Africa, 5% from America and 33% from Asia. Ten years later, the situation is practically identical for Africa (3%) and remains unchanged for America (5%), while Asia now accounts for 45% of exports to developing countries;
    • The boom in exports to Asia is taking place particularly in the context of trade among the countries of the region, that accounted for 53% of exports to Asia in 2005 as compared with 41% in 1995; the African and American continents account for only 2% of the Asian market (1% in 1995), essentially owing to trade in commodities.
  • It is in the East and South-East Asian countries that the development in the terms of trade is less favourable, which confirms the trend noted in the UNCTAD Trade and Development Report, 2005;
  • Almost 60% of exported diodes, transistors, integrated circuits and cathode tubes come from developing countries, or a market share that has increased by 50% as compared to 1995;
  • Exports from the least developed countries are concentrated in a more restricted range of products, which can be a vulnerability factor;
  • Nearly two thirds of the merchant marine (in deadweight tons) fly a flag of a developing country, in other words, the number of vessels registered in developing countries has almost doubled over the past 30 years; however, the Bahamas, Liberia and Panama, which are open-registry countries, account for 58% of the merchant fleet of developing countries and 37% of the world´s merchant fleet;
  • In 2005, the foreign exchange reserves of developing countries could finance eight months of their imports, as compared to five months 30 years earlier;
  • In 2005, Bangladesh and the Philippines received from their nationals working abroad amounts representing 41% and 30% of their total exports of goods and services, respectively;
  • For the past 10 years or so, the current account balance of the balance of payments of Asian developing countries has been positive. In 2006, that balance accounted for 6.7% of their gross domestic product (GDP). The trend is the reverse for the developed countries, particularly the United States, whose balance is -6.4% of its GDP;
  • Direct investment flows to developing countries were equivalent to 3% of their GDPs in 2005, or double the FDI flows to developed countries;
  • With a 5.2% annual average increase in per capita GDP in real terms from 2000 to 2006, Asia stands out clearly from other developing countries (4.0%) and the world (1.8%);
  • The commodity price index calculated by UNCTAD indicates that at the end of the first quarter of 2007, prices had doubled as compared with 2000. The index, which is calculated on the basis of the export structure of developing countries´ exports, reflects the rise in the price of minerals, ores and metals that has been noted since the beginning of the decade and, to a lesser extent, a rise in the price of foodstuffs and raw materials of agricultural origin.


1. The publication Handbook of Statistics 2006-2007 (Sales No. E/F.05.II.D.2, ISBN 92 1 012057-4) may be purchased for $85 from United Nations sales offices (the addresses are indicated below) or from distributors of United Nations publications in many countries; the CD-ROM may be purchased for $85. Persons wishing to obtain discounts for large orders should contact the sales offices. Orders or requests for information from Europe, Africa and Western Asia may be sent to United Nations Publications Service/Sales office, Palais des Nations, CH-1211, Geneva 10, Switzerland, fax: +41 22 917 0027, e-mail: unpubli@un.org; and for the Americas and East Asia, to United Nations Publications Service, Two UN Plaza, Room DC2-853, New York, NY 10017, USA, telephone: +1 212 963 8302 or +1 800 253 9646, fax: +1 212 963 3489, e-mail: publications@un.org. Internet: http://www.un.org/publications.

For more information, please contact:
UNCTAD Press Office
T: +41 22 917 5828
E: unctadpress@unctad.org
Web: www.unctad.org/press


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