unctad.org | Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade: The Status of World Trade
Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade: The Status of World Trade
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After strongly rebounding from the Great Recession, international trade has grown at a sluggish pace that strongly deteriorated in 2015.

In 2016 the value of international trade continued to decline. Recent trade statistics 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, declined by 10 per cent in 2015, and by about 3 percent in 2016.

A substantial part of the drop in international trade in the last two years was due to nominal factors, principally the fall in the price of commodities and the overall appreciation of the United States dollar.

Weaker demand also played a role, especially in East Asia and in other parts of the developing world. In regard to 2016, although the largest decline occurred in commodity sectors, the value of trade continued to contract in many manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

Services trade fared better overall, but declines in the value of trade were also observed in some of the service sectors. The trade collapse of 2015 affected all geographic regions, and the smaller declines of 2016 followed a similar pattern, with some minor exceptions. In particular, South– South trade performance was weak both in 2015 and 2016. On a positive note, trade continued to increase in volume terms both 2015 and 2016, although at a much lower rate than the historical trend. Moreover, trade both in value and in volume is expected to resume growth in 2017 and 2018.

This report is structured into two parts. The first part presents an overview of the status of international trade using statistics up to 2017. The second part provides illustrative statistics on international trade in goods and services covering the last decade. The second part is divided into 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.

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