Trade structure by partner

Flows between China, the United States of America and Germany make up 6 per cent of global imports
69 per cent of all European exports remain in Europe
South-south trade accounts for 27 per cent of global exports
Exports of developing economies to the United States amount to US$1.2 trillions
Main world import flows, 2016

Notes: Bilateral imports of US$100 billion or more are shown. The width of the arrows is proportional to the value of imports in United States dollars.

Find the data on UNCTADstat

Shape of the global trade network

International merchandise trade flows are to a large extent transcontinental. In 2016, some of the largest flows ran between China, the United States of America, and Germany, jointly accounting for US$990 billion, 6 per cent of world imports. Considerable trade was recorded also between the United States of America and its neighbours, Canada and Mexico, as well as between mainland China and surrounding economies, including the Republic of Korea, Japan, Taiwan Province of China and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China (Hong Kong SAR).

In some regions, economies have developed stronger ties for mutual exchange of goods than in others. In 2016, in Europe more than two thirds and in Asia more than half of all exports were delivered to trading partners in the same region. In Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean and in Africa this was the case for less than one fifth.

Figure 1Intra- and extra-group exports, 2016 (Percentage of total exports)
a
Equal to the group ‘Developed economies: America’ on UNCTADstat.
b
Equal to the group ‘Developing economies: America’ on UNCTADstat.

Trade within and between ‘hemispheres’

Out of the total value of US$16.0 trillion of global merchandise trade, US$5.8 trillion, i.e. slightly more than one third, were accounted for by goods exchanged between different developed economies (North–North trade), while trade among developing and transition economies (South–South trade) accounted for US$4.3 trillion, i.e. slightly more than one quarter. The remaining US$5.7 trillion were comprised of exports from developed to developing and transition economies and in the opposite direction.

Figure 2Global trade flows, 2016
Trade within and between ‘hemispheres’, 2016 treemap

Note: North refers to developed economies; South, to developing and transition economies. Trade is measured from the export side.

With whom do developing economies mainly trade?

In 2016, developing economies delivered most of their exports to the United States of America (US$1.2 trillion), Japan (US$0.4 trillion) and to various developing economies in Asia, mainly China (US$ 0.9 trillion). These represented also the main origins of their imports. For LDCs, the main export markets also included some European economies. LDCs in Asia delivered the largest proportion of their exports to the United States of America, whereas for LDCs in Africa and Haiti the most important export destination was China.

Figure 3LDCs’ main export destinations, 2016 (Billions of United States dollars)

Summary tables

Table 1

Exports by origin and destination, 2016

(Billions of United States dollars)

Origin

Destination

World

Developing economies

Transition economies

Developed
economies

Total

Africa

America

Asia and Oceania

World

15 940

6 563

502

900

5 161

361

8 924

(100)

(41)

(3)

(6)

(32)

(2)

(56)

Developing economies

6 969

3 969

287

352

3 330

109

2 863

(100)

(57)

(4)

(5)

(48)

(2)

(41)

Developing economies: Africa

350

178

62

8

108

2

164

(100)

(51)

(18)

(2)

(31)

(1)

(47)

Developing economies: America

883

324

16

146

162

7

547

(100)

(37)

(2)

(17)

(18)

(1)

(62)

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

5 735

3 468

208

198

3 061

100

2 151

(100)

(60)

(4)

(3)

(53)

(2)

(38)

Transition economies

452

135

16

6

113

81

235

(100)

(30)

(4)

(1)

(25)

(18)

(52)

Developed economies

8 519

2 458

199

541

1 718

171

5 826

(100)

(29)

(2)

(6)

(20)

(2)

(68)

Note: Percentage of exports to the whole world in parentheses.

Find the data on UNCTADstat
Table 2

Exports by origin and destination, selected years

(Billions of United States dollars)

Origin

Year

Destination

World

Developing economies

Transition economies

Developed
economies

Total

Africa

America

Asia and Oceania

World

2006

12 117

3 849

301

596

2 953

316

7 893

2011

18 328

7 279

581

1 080

5 619

564

10 275

2016

15 940

6 563

502

900

5 161

361

8 924

Developing economies

2006

4 533

2 158

142

232

1 784

60

2 298

2011

7 904

4 399

317

483

3 598

132

3 313

2016

6 969

3 969

287

352

3 330

109

2 863

Developing economies: Africa

2006

362

109

33

12

64

1

248

2011

619

270

82

26

163

3

330

2016

350

178

62

8

108

2

164

Developing economies: America

2006

696

209

12

133

64

7

475

2011

1 107

438

23

222

194

11

648

2016

883

324

16

146

162

7

547

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

2006

3 475

1 840

97

87

1 656

52

1 575

2011

6 178

3 690

213

236

3 242

118

2 335

2016

5 735

3 468

208

198

3 061

100

2 151

Transition economies

2006

443

77

6

7

64

84

281

2011

809

174

13

11

149

151

411

2016

452

135

16

6

113

81

235

Developed economies

2006

7 141

1 615

153

357

1 105

172

5 314

2011

9 615

2 707

251

585

1 871

280

6 550

2016

8 519

2 458

199

541

1 718

171

5 826

Table 3

Top destinations of developing economies’ exports

Destination

(Ranked by value of exports)

Rank

2016

2016

2011

Value

Share in
total exports

Cumulative share

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

United States

1

1

1 178

16.9

16.9

China

2

2

856

12.3

29.2

China, Hong Kong SAR

3

4

463

6.6

35.8

Japan

4

3

384

5.5

41.3

India

5

5

244

3.5

44.8

Korea, Republic of

6

6

237

3.4

48.2

Singapore

7

7

178

2.6

50.8

Germany

8

9

172

2.5

53.3

Viet Nam

9

22

161

2.3

55.6

Netherlands

10

10

152

2.2

57.8

United Kingdom

11

11

148

2.1

59.9

United Arab Emirates

12

16

134

1.9

61.8

China, Taiwan Province of

13

8

132

1.9

63.7

Malaysia

14

13

131

1.9

65.6

Thailand

15

17

122

1.7

67.3

Rest of the world

_

_

2 276

32.7

100.0

World

_

_

6 969

100.0

100.0

Table 4

Top origins of developing economies’ imports

Origin

(Ranked by value of imports)

Rank

2016

2016

2011

Value

Share in
total imports

Cumulative share

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

China

1

1

1 047

16.0

16.0

United States

2

2

733

11.2

27.2

Japan

3

3

457

7.0

34.2

Korea, Republic of

4

4

361

5.5

39.7

China, Taiwan Province of

5

6

289

4.4

44.1

Germany

6

5

282

4.3

48.5

Malaysia

7

8

174

2.7

51.1

India

8

11

155

2.4

53.5

Thailand

9

14

141

2.2

55.6

Australia

10

10

140

2.1

57.8

Singapore

11

9

138

2.1

59.9

France

12

15

128

2.0

61.9

Brazil

13

12

124

1.9

63.7

United Arab Emirates

14

13

122

1.9

65.6

Saudi Arabia

15

7

118

1.8

67.4

Rest of the world

_

_

2 130

32.6

100.0

World

_

_

6 539

100.0

100.0