For use of information media - Not an official record

16 December 2003

A billion dollars can mean a lot or a little, depending on the context. Brazil´s revenue from coffee exports declined by $1 billion between 1999 and 2001…and Slovenia took in $1 billion in tourist expenditures in 2001. When it comes to magnitude, everything is relative, as an examination of UNCTAD´s Handbook of Statistics 2003 (1) shows. The Handbook, released today, enables a broad range of trade and development statistics to be put into perspective.

The same $1 billion, for example - give or take a few thousand -- is the amount of GDP shared by 27,000 Norwegians … and by 10 million Ethiopians. It is the total in tariff revenues on manufactured product imports collected by Indonesia, Algeria or South Africa. It is the amount of FDI inflows to Argentina in 2002; the annual intra-trade of CARICOM; 0.6% of the EU´s agriculture value added; or 11% of the value of Africa´s agriculture exports to the EU in 2001. One billion dollars also represents 10% of the estimated value of India´s total remittances from abroad, or 10% of the country´s trade deficit.

Now in its fourth decade of publication, the Handbook is a numerical reflection of the complex issues of international trade and development. Available on CD-ROM, in print, and as an online database, it permits its users - government, academia, international organizations and other researchers - to analyse trends based on time series going as far back as 1950, and in most cases up to 2002.

The Handbook explores such topics as:

  • Trade in goods and services
  • Structure of international trade by region and by product
  • Commodity price indices
  • Terms-of-trade indices
  • Balance of payments
  • Foreign direct investment
  • Official financial flows
  • External debt
  • National accounts
  • Social and telecommunications indicators, such as Internet usage, unemployment and migration rates

In addition, for the first time this year the printed issue of the Handbook contains a table on the average applied import tariff rates on non-agricultural and non-fuel products.

Three formats for Handbook

Of the three formats available, the CD-ROM version of the UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2003 is the most comprehensive, permitting the presentation of full time series. Its user-friendly data browser enables one-click pivoting, charting, sorting, aggregating or exporting, all of which allows for quicker reference, improved usage and deeper analytical insights. The print version is a consolidated reference for selected statistics considered by UNCTAD to be of particular importance in analysing trade and development trends, or to describe, in the context of globalization, how individual countries or groups of countries have evolved in recent decades. It can be used on its own or in conjunction with the CD-ROM. Data are presented analytically, through rank orderings, growth rates, shares and other special calculations, with a view to facilitating their interpretation.

The new online version is available as of today at: http://www.unctad.org/statistics/handbook. It has a new look and new functionalities that allow users to explore data online more efficiently.


1. The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2003 is available in print for US$ 80 (Sales No E/F.03.II.D.33, ISBN 92-1-012055-8); on CD-ROM, for US$ 150 (Sales No. E/F.03.II.D.28, ISBN 92-1-012053-1), or at a special price of US$ 195 for both the print and CD-ROM versions. It may be ordered from Section des Ventes et Commercialisation, Bureau E-4, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, T: +41 22 917 2614, F: +41 22 917 0027, E: unpubli@unog.ch; or United Nations Publications Sales and Marketing Section, Two UN Plaza, Room DC2-853, New York, NY 10017, USA, T: +1 212 963 8302 or +1 800 253 9646, F: +1 212 963 3489, E: publications@un.org, Internet: http://www.un.org/publications.

For more information, please contact:
UNCTAD Press Office
T: +41 22 917 5828
E: press@unctad.org
Henri Laurencin
T: +41 22 917 5734
E: henri.laurencin@unctad.org


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