After strongly rebounding from the Great Recession, international trade has grown at a sluggish pace that further deteriorated in 2015. Trade statistics for 2015 have been at odds not only with previous trends but also with respect to the overall economic environment.
From 2011 to 2014 the value of international trade grew at a rate of less than 2 per cent per year, and declined by 10 percent in 2015. A substantial part of the drop in international trade was due to nominal factors, principally the fall in the price of commodities and the overall appreciation of the US dollar.
Weaker demand also played a role, especially in East Asia and in other parts of the developing world. Although the largest decline occurred in commodity sectors, the value of trade has also contracted in all manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Declines in the value of trade were also observed in the service sectors.
The trade collapse of 2015 has affected all geographic regions. In general, trade flows of developing countries registered a larger downtrend relative to the last trade collapse of 2009. South-South trade performance has also been weak, largely driven by lower East Asian imports. In terms of export performance, countries in East Asia generally fared relatively better.
This report is structured in two parts. The first part presents an overview of the trade collapse of 2015.
The second part provides illustrative statistics on international trade in goods and services covering the last 10 years. The second part is divided in two sections.
Section 1 provides trade statistics at various levels of aggregation illustrating the evolution of trade across economic sectors and geographic regions.
Section 2 presents some of the most commonly used trade indicators at the country level, so as to illustrate trade performance across countries.