unctad.org | Key Trends in International Merchandise Trade
Key Trends in International Merchandise Trade
Book Information


The purpose of this report is to provide some key trends in world trade in goods over the recent medium-term period. This report is intended as a monitoring exercise so as to provide interested readers with informative data and analysis on a regular basis.

The report is organized in four parts. The first part presents broad statistics on international trade. The second section presents statistics on international trade disaggregated by broad product groups and economic sectors. The third section presents statistics related to bilateral trade flows and regional trade flows. The fourth part presents some of the commonly used indices related to international trade including diversification, intra industry trade, and sophistication of exports.

This report relies on UNSD COMTRADE hard data for key trade statistics (in current value terms). International trade is defined as trade exclusively in goods (merchandise). Services are not included in any of the statistics presented here. COMTRADE data although comprehensive and comparable across countries, does not perfectly reflect national statistics, and thus some discrepancies with specific national statistics may be present. The data has been standardized to assure cross country comparisons. Non-trade macro level data used in the figures originates from UNCTADSTAT.

For the purpose of this report, countries are categorized in two ways: by geographic region and by level of income as defined by the UN classification (UNSD M49). Developed countries and major developing economies comprise those commonly categorized as such in UN statistics. For the purpose of this report transition economies, when not treated as a single group, are included in the broad aggregate of developing countries. For the purpose of this report the statistics for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China are presented separately under the name Hong Kong (China).

Following the Broad Economic Categories (BEC) classification, international trade is classified into four major economic categories, depending on the stage of processing and use. Primary products comprise raw materials and resources used in the productive process. Intermediate products comprise semi-finished goods that are used in the production of other products. Consumer products are those that are intended for final consumption. Capital goods are manufacturing goods such as machinery that are intended to be used in the production of other goods. Product sectors are categorized according to the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) augmented by five broad agricultural sectors based on the Harmonized System classification (HS).

All the data and graphs contained in this report, as well as more detailed data can be accessed at: UNCTAD Trade analysis branch website.


Key Trends in International Merchandise Trade (UNCTAD/DITC/TAB/2013/1/Rev.1)


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