The State of Commodity Dependence 2023

A country is dependent on the export of commodities (or “commodity-dependent”) when its merchandise exports are heavily concentrated on primary commodities.

The source of commodity dependence can be linked to a country’s persistent or structural conditions, such as its resource endowment and factor composition, institutional framework, geographic situation, history among other factors.

UNCTAD member States are considered to be commoditydependent if more than 60 per cent of their merchandise export value comes from commodities.

It is important to monitor and analyse the evolution of commodity dependence, as this dependence has been found to have negative implications, in different ways, for a country’s welfare and development.

  • Commodity-dependent countries (CDCs), and in particular commodity-dependent developing countries (CDDCs), are vulnerable to negative shocks that affect the quantities and/or the prices of the commodities exported.
  • Commodity dependence can negatively impact CDCs, and in particular CDDCs, because they are exposed to the sharp reduction or even reversal of capital inflows (a phenomenon often called a “sudden stop”).

This document is divided into two parts.

Chapter I. identifies and characterizes CDCs. It also discusses the recent evolution of commodity prices, commodity export values, and the net asset position of these countries, with a focus on CDDCs as they are often more vulnerable to commodity price shocks.

It looks closely at the state of commodity dependence around the world from 2019–2021, characterizing it along geographic, income and development status criteria.

It then discusses the recent evolution of commodity prices and highlights the very high volatility during 2019–2021. Changes in the net foreign positions of CDDCs are analysed in conjunction with variations in commodity prices.

Available commodity price information used to decompose the value of commodity exports shows that recent changes in the variable were in most cases the result of changes in prices rather than volumes. It also considers the consequences that commodity price volatility may have in terms of debt sustainability.

Conclusions are presented, followed by the data appendix.

Chapter II. is dedicated to country-specific commodity-dependence profiles that also include selected economic and social indicators.


Map of the state of commodity dependence


The State of Commodity Dependence 2023 (UNCTAD/DITC/COM/2023/3)
22 Jun 2023
22 Jun 2023