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   Issue 7/8, Winter 2006/Spring 2007

Trends in International Trade

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Overview

    Regional Trade     U.S. and Canada
        Europe         Russian Federation
    Africa & the Middle East     Asia & Pacific
            South & Central America

Trade specialists suggest that the global trading system is experiencing a transition period. Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the WTO stated, shifting economic conditions, advances in modern technology and the growth of emerging economies, are all factors in the global economic and trading transition. 1

There is also uncertainty regarding world trade for the 2006 year. In acknowledging this concern, economists have still predicted a 7% growth rate in trade volume and 3.5% growth for the world econo2. Despite the ups and downs in the rate of world trade, the overall volume of trade continues to grow. Various factors in the global economy cause fluctuations in the growth rate of world trade, which span from world oil prices to changes in foreign exchange rates.

In looking at the growth in the volume of world merchandise trade and GDP from 1995-2005, the average export growth rate was approximately 6% with an actual decline in world merchandise trade in 2001. The highest rates for average export growth between 1995 and 2005, was in 1997 and 2000, in which the export growth reached slightly above 10%.

BERA - Business & Economics Research Advisor - A Quarterly Guide to Business & Economics Topics

Issue 7/8: Winter 2006/Spring 2007

International Economics & Trade

Table of Contents

Introduction
World Economic History
International Trade & Global Commerce
International Finance
Foreign Exchange Market
Trends in International Trade
Trade Policy, Treaties, & Law
International Organizations & Economic Development
Country Data
Economic Trade Data & Statistics
U.S. Government Resources
Online Periodicals
Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Hanjin company container ship at port in the Port of Vancouver
Image (above):
Hanjin company container ship at port in the Port of Vancouver
Courtesy of Joseph Sams.

In the previous decade from 1990-2000, the average growth rate for merchandise exports was 6.4%, slightly higher than the current decade. From 1990-2000, the growth in world GDP was 2.5%. The average GDP growth rate from 1995-2005 was 3%. Its lowest growth rates during this period were in 2001 and 2002, dipping just below 2%. 3 The current decade showed an overall growth rate of .5%.

Regional Trade

The slow-down in the world economy led to the fall in world merchandise trade for 2005, with an annual growth of 6%. This was considerably less than 2004, when the growth rate for world merchandise exports reached over 9%. However, world merchandise trade was still twice that of world economic growth (GDP).4

The EU is the world's largest trading economy. The EU's amount in world merchandise trade reached a total of $4.3 trillion in exports and $4.5 trillion in imports for 2005. Asia, particularly East Asian countries and India, has the second largest trading economy at $2.7 trillion in world merchandise trade exports and $2.5 trillion in imports.5

Examining the amount of trade for individual countries in 2005, Germany was the world's leader in world merchandise trade exports totaling an amount of $970 billion, followed by the U.S. as the second largest at $904 billion in world merchandise trade exports. The third largest exporting country was China at $762 billion.6 In 2005, China also had the fourth highest growth rate in trade at 28%.

Regarding imports, the U.S. remains the largest importing country at $1.7 trillion, with Germany as the second largest importing country at $774 billion. China was the third largest importing country with its imports reaching an amount of $660 billion in 2005.

U.S. and Canada

The amount of U.S. exports in 2005 totaled $10.1 trillion and $10.4 trillion in value for imports. Asia is the U.S.'s largest trading partner. In the U.S. the amount of world merchandise trade in exports was $904 billion and $1.7 trillion in imports creating a substantial trade deficit. The U.S. trade deficit is currently approximately around $208.7 as of the first quarter of 2006. The deficit is down from $223.1 billion since the fourth quarter of 2005.7 There was actually a decrease in the growth of imports in relation to export growth in 2005. This was the first time in eight years that U.S. merchandise exports grew faster than imports. This was due to increases in U.S. agricultural exports and capital goods.8 The decrease in U.S. economic growth in 2005 also contributed to the fall in imports. U.S. GDP rose by 3.5% in 2005 down from 4.2% growth in 2004.

In 2005, Canada's total exports reached the amount of $360 billion and $320 billion for imports. Canada's world merchandise trade showed a 5% growth rate in exports since 2000, and 6% growth in imports.9 In 2005, world trade in commercial services in Canada reached $51 billion, a significantly smaller amount in comparison to its U.S. partner, whose world trade in commercial services totaled $353 billion in 2005.

Europe

The European Union (EU) is made up of 25 European member countries. The development and expansion of the EU has created a very successful trading environment. The EU is the world's largest trader, and accounts for more than 90% of all trade in Europe.10

While the EU is the world's largest trading market, its four leading economies, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy all saw its economic growth fall in 2005. A slow and stagnate economic climate led to a drop in the growth of EU world merchandise exports from 19% annual growth in 2004 to 7% in 2005. The growth in EU imports also fell from a 20% annual growth rate in 2004 to 8% in 2005. World exchange rate changes also contributed to Europe's drastic drop in trade growth for 2005.

Russian Federation

In 2005, the Russian Commonwealth (CIS) economy experienced the second largest growth rate in world merchandise trade exports at 34%. The Russian CIS also recorded the highest economic growth rate for all regions. Economists suggest that the increase in export earnings along with public and private investment led to an economic growth rate (GDP) of 6.6%.11 Russia is also one of the world's largest exporters of oil, increasing its revenues through oil trade. In 2005, the Russian CIS also had the highest increase in annual growth for world merchandise trade imports at 28%.

Despite, the substantial growth rate in the Russian CIS economy and its world trade, in comparison to other regions, the total amount in world merchandise trade exports was $342 billion for 2005 and $216 billion for imports. The continued growth and expansion of world trade growth of the Russian CIS has created economic growth for the CIS economies, but has also contributed to maintaining a viable world trading market.

Africa & the Middle East

Oil export trade is what drives the economies of the Middle East and the Persian gulf region, as well as the oil producing countries in Africa. According to the WTO World Trade Report, over the last two decades, the Middle East and Africa attained their highest shares in world merchandise trade exports as a result of the oil market.12 Regional GDP growth rates averaged between 4% to 5% for Africa and the Middle East region.

Africa's total amount in world merchandise exports was $296 billion in 2005 and $248 billion in imports. In 2005, Africa recorded on of the highest annual growth rates in exports at 29%. It averaged an annual growth rate of 15% from 2000-2005. Africa's trade in exports continues to dominate its amount in trade imports. The oil exporting countries in Africa were responsible for a large portion of its growth rate in exports, which rose 45% in 2005.

The total volume in world merchandise trade exports for the Middle East was $529 billion and $318 billion for imports in 2005. The annual growth rate in exports in 2005 was the highest among all regions at 36%. The exports averaged a 15% growth rate between 2000-2005. Saudi Arabia is the leading exporting country in the Middle East, due to its oil exports, which totaled approximately $179 billion in 2005. Saudi Arabia also experienced the highest annual growth rate in exports climbing to 42%, the highest of all individual countries in 2005.13 Conditions in the world oil market contributed to the growth.

Asia & Pacific

According to the WTO, the Asian region had the highest growth in the volume of real merchandise exports in 2004, at 14.5%.14 The total growth rate in merchandise exports was 25% for 2004. In 2004, merchandise trade exports for China, South Korea, and Singapore exceeded 25%. One of the factors contributing to Asia's strong growth in merchandise exports for 2004 was because of the consumer electronics products market. The WTO trade report for 2004 indicated that world shipments of mobile phones, digital cameras, semiconductors, and personal computers all grew at double-digit rates. In five East Asian economies, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, and South Korea, between 30% and 65% of the exports were office and telecom products, which played a significant role in export expansion for the region.15

After the strong rise in the volume or trade for Asia in 2004, the growth rate in trade fell to 15% in 2005, but continued double digit growth. China remains a dominant global market for foreign direct investment at approximately $60 billion achieving roughly the same level of investment as in 2004.16 The total volume in merchandise trade exports for 2005 was $2.7 trillion and $2.5 trillion in imports. China is the regions leader in world merchandise trade, estimated at $762 billion in exports, the world's third largest, as well as the region's largest importer at $660 billion in 2005. China is also the world's third largest importer in world merchandise trade. Japan is the second largest trading economy in Asia, with the total volume in world merchandise exports reaching $596 billion, and $516 billion in imports for 2005. Japan is the world's fourth largest trading economy. Hong Kong is Asia's third leading economy in world merchandise trade. Its volume in world merchandise exports was $292 billion, and $300 billion in imports for 2005. Hong Kong is the world's 11th largest trading economy.17 India has shown substantial growth in trade over the last several years, but remains below $150 billion in the total amount for world merchandise trade.

South & Central America

In 2004, Central and South America, and the Caribbean state economies were strong and growing by nearly 7% in GDP. The economic growth in the regions contributed to the significant growth in trade. The region's merchandise exports increased by 28%, reaching $272 billion, and imports by 27%, to $238 billion for 2004. The WTO indicates that "The region's merchandise exports benefited from favorable global demand trends for many of its products (fuels, metals, and agricultural products), which led to higher prices and a recovery of intra-regional trade."18

Economic growth continued into 2005 for the region, but decreased slightly to approximately 6%. South and Central America also benefited from an increase in foreign direct investment (FDI). The four major exporters in the region are Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela. The largest exporter in the region is Brazil, which reached a total amount in world merchandise trade exports of $118 billion, and $78 billion in imports for 2005.19 Argentina is the second largest exporter in the region. Argentina's economy grew at around 16% but only half as much as the other three major economies in the region. However, the growth rate of Argentina's exports remained high. Argentina and Venezuela both experienced a substantial drop in imports. This drop in imports was due to a serious financial crisis in Argentina, and political unrest in Venezuela.

In looking at the region as a whole, world merchandise trade exports totaled $351 billion and $294 billion for imports in 2005. The growth rate in exports for 2005 remained at 14% the same rate as the previous year. The rate of growth in imports fell by 6% from 28% in 2004 to 22% in 2005. From 2000 to 2005, South and Central America's exports grew at an average annual rate 13% while imports grew an average annual rate of 7%.20 In addition to its strong growth in world merchandise trade South and Central America (and the Caribbean) also reported the strongest growth in commercial services trade in comparison to all other regions. The region's strong economic growth, favorable commodity prices, and exchange rate appreciations, all contributed to its impressive trade growth.21

Selected Print Resources

International Merchandise Trade Statistics: Compilers Manual. . New York: Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division, United Nations, 2004.
LC Call Number: HF1379 .I597 2004
LC Catalog Record: 2004301842
Table of Contents

Publisher's Description: A compilation trade statistics that also serves as a guide to users who wish to better understand the nature of trade data. The Manual discusses in detail the conceptual and institutional framework of data collection, the sources of data, methods of data compilation, and data dissemination, reconciliation and exchange.

International Statistics Yearbook. New York: Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division, United Nations. (Annual)
LC Call Number: HF91 .U473
LC Catalog Record: 86648144

Publisher's Description: Provides basic information on the external trade of individual countries. The yearbook includes the value of trade, and volume price, the importance of trading partners and significance of the exporting and importing of individual commodities.

International Trade Statistics. Geneva: The World Trade Organization. (Annual)
http://www.wto.org/english/res%5Fe/statis%5Fe/its2005_e/its2005_e.pdf [PDF Format: 427 MB
/ 274 p.]
LC Call Number: HF1371 .I584
LC Catalog Record: 2001252309

Annual publication that provides a compilation of world trade statistics and data, broken down by country, region, and sector. World trade developments, prospects and long-terms trends are also discussed in the publication.

OECD Statistics on International Trade in Services. A Joint Publication of OECD and Eurostat. Paris: OECD Publications. (Annual)
LC Call Number: HD9980.4 .S47
LC Catalog Record: 2001252486

Publisher's Summary: This publication provides partner country breakdowns for trade in services as a whole, transport services, travel, other commercial services and government services (balance of payments basis). Service transactions between residents of the reporting country and non-residents are broken down by partner country for 27 OECD member countries plus Hong Kong, China, the European Union, European Union institutions and euro area.

World Trade Report. Geneva: World Trade Organization.
LC Call Number: HF1385 .W677
LC Catalog Record: 2003238730
http://www.wto.org/english/res_e/reser_e/world_trade_report_e.htm

Publisher's Description: The main WTO research publication on global trade policy, with core topics, analysis and new developments.

Selected Internet Resources

International Trade and Investment: Economic Issues. . Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
http://www.oecd.org/department/0,2688,en_2649_34601_1_1_1_1_1,00.html
Provides links to OECD studies and reports on International trade and investment that look at closer economic integration and development, as well as studies that provide analysis and assessment of world trade and trade and payments relationships between the OECD and the rest of the world.
OECD In Figures. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
http://www.oecd.org/document/62/0,2340,en_2649_201185_2345918_1_1_1_1,00.html
Publisher's Summary: An easy to use data book considered a economic, financial, social and environmental data. The 2005 edition of OECD in Figures contains key data on OECD countries, ranging from economic growth and employment to trade and migration. There are comparable tables on the environment, science and public finances. For added perspective, OECD in Figures includes a selection of graphs, giving snapshots on subjects such as GDP, education spending, services trade, health funding, development aid and renewable energy.
OECD Trade Policy Studies Trading Up: Economic Perspectives on Development
Issues in the Multilateral Trading System.

http://www.oecd.org/document/45/0,2340,en_2649_33705_36789165_1_1_1_1,00.html
Publisher's Summary: This volume considers trade and development from an economic perspective, aiming to examine these emotive issues using empirical approaches and dispassionate analysis.
OECD Trade Portal.
http://www.oecd.org/document/45/0,2340,en_2649_33705_36789165_1_1_1_1,00.html
A resource to publications and new reports on world trade and links to trade issues, which include a number topics such as, International Trade and Balance of Payments Statistics, Regionalism and the Multilateral Trading System, Regulatory Reform, Services in Trade, Tariffs, Non-tariff Barriers, Trade and Agriculture, Trade Policy. There are also links to trade statistics sources, publications and documents, as well as information by country.
Trade Profiles. World Trade Organization.
http://onlinebookshop.wto.org/shop/article_details.asp?Id_Article=697&lang=EN
Publisher's description: This booklet is a quick source for national and trade statistics of WTO Members and countries which are in the process of negotiating WTO membership.
World Trade Report. World Trade Organization.
http://www.wto.org/english/res_e/reser_e/world_trade_report_e.htm
Publisher's description: The main WTO research publication on global trade policy, with core topics, analysis and new developments.

Library of Congress Catalog Searches

Additional works on the history of the oil and gas industries in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish to search from the following list of Library of Congress subject headings to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search for the subject selected. Please be aware that during periods of heavy use you may encounter delays in accessing the catalog. Please see the individual sections of this guide for catalog searches relating to those topics. For assistance in locating the many other subject headings which relate to this subject, please consult a reference librarian.


 1. "World Trade 2005, Prospects For 2006, Trade picks up in mid-2005, but 2006 picture is uncertain," Press Release, 11 April 2006. World Trade Organization, p.1.
http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres06_e/pr437_e.pdf [PDF format: 86 KB / 17 p.]

 2. Ibid, p. 1.

 3. Ibid, p. 3.

 4. "Chart 1: Growth in the Volume of World Merchandise Trade and GDP, 1995-05 (Annual percentage change)," in "World Trade 2005, Prospects For 2006," Press Release, 11 April 2006.
World Trade Organization, p. 3.
http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres06_e/pr437_e.pdf [PDF format: 86 KB / 17 p.]

 5. "Appendix Table 3: Leading exporters and importers in world merchandise trade, 2005," in "World Trade 2005, Prospects for 2006," Press Release, 11 April 2006. World Trade Organization, p. 15
http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres06_e/pr437_e.pdf [PDF format: 86 KB / 17 p.]

 6. Ibid, p. 15.

 7. "Country Outlook: United States." The Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Indicators (Subscription Database).

 8. Ibid, p. 4.

 9. "Appendix Table 1: World Merchandise Trade by Region and Selected Country, 2005, " in "World Trade 2005, Prospects for 2006," Press Release, 11 April 2006. World Trade Organization, p. 13.
http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres06_e/pr437_e.pdf [PDF format: 86 KB / 17 p.]

 10. World Trade Report 2005, Recent and Selected Medium-Term Trade Developments.
Geneva: World Trade Organization, p. 9.
http://www.wto.org/english/res_e/booksp_e/anrep_e/wtr06-1a_e.pdf [PDF format: 260 KB / 12 p.]

 11. "World Trade 2005, Prospects For 2006," Press Release, 11 April 2006. World Trade Organization, p. 4.
http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres06_e/pr437_e.pdf [PDF format: 86 KB / 17 p.]

 12. Ibid, p. 2.

 13. "Appendix Table 3: Leading exporters and importers in world merchandise trade, 2005," in "World Trade 2005, Prospects for 2006," Press Release, 11 April 2006. World Trade Organization, p. 15.
http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres06_e/pr437_e.pdf [PDF format: 86 KB / 17 p.]

 14. World Trade Report 2005. Geneva: World Trade Organization, p. 3.
http://www.wto.org/english/res_e/booksp_e/anrep_e/wtr06-1a_e.pdf [PDF format: 260 KB / 12 p.]

 15. Ibid, p.3.

 16. "World Trade 2005, Prospects For 2006," Press Release, 11 April 2006. World Trade Organization, p. 4. http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres06_e/pr437_e.pdf [PDF format: 86 KB / 17 p.]

 17. "Appendix Table 3: Leading exporters and importers in world merchandise trade, 2005," in "World Trade 2005, Prospects for 2006," Press Release, 11 April 2006. World Trade Organization, p. 15.
http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres06_e/pr437_e.pdf [PDF format: 86 KB / 17 p.]

 18. World Trade Report 2005, and Selected Medium-Term Trade Developments.
Geneva: World Trade Organization, p. 9.
http://www.rgtr.ru/presentations/world_trade_report05_e.pdf [PDF format: 2/7 MB / 377 p.]

 19. "Table 1: World Merchandise Trade by Region and Selected Country, 2005," (in "World Trade 2005, Prospects for 2006," Press Release, 11 April 2006. World Trade Organization, p. 13.
http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres06_e/pr437_e.pdf [PDF format: 86 KB / 17 p.]

 20. Ibid, p. 13.

 21. "World Trade 2005, Prospects For 2006," Press Release, 11 April 2006. World Trade Organization, p. 9.
http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres06_e/pr437_e.pdf [PDF format: 86 KB / 17 p.]

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