Trade structure by product

Food is main export in many South American and Eastern African economies
Exports rose by more than 8% in 2017 for all product groups
Fuel exports surged (+31%)
Africa’s net exports of primary commodities do not compensate for net imports of manufactures
Main export products, 2017
Economies

    Regional specialization patterns

    Economies specialize their exports by different groups of products. For many developed and developing economies in Southern and Eastern Asia, manufactured goods represent the most exported product group. Many transition economies and developing economies in Western Asia and North and Central Africa rely mainly on fuels. Food is strongly represented in the exports of some economies in South America and Eastern Africa; and ores, metals, precious stones and non-monetary gold in the exports of several Southern and Western African and Central Asian economies.

    For developing economies in 2017, manufactured goods accounted for 70 per cent of total exports – almost as much as in developed economies. In transition economies, only one quarter of exports were manufactured goods, while fuels accounted for one half.

    Figure 1Export structure by product group, 2017 (Percentage)
    Developing economiesTransition economiesDeveloped economies

    Note: Non-allocated products are not considered.

    Upswing in trade throughout a whole range of products

    With exports increasing by 31 per cent between 2016 and 2017, fuels led the global recovery in merchandise trade (see Total merchandise trade page). However, ample growth was recorded also for all other main product groups. Exports of agricultural raw materials rose by 13 per cent; exports of food, ores, metals, precious stones, non-monetary gold and manufactured goods increased at rates of around 9 per cent.

    Figure 2Annual growth rate of exports by product group, 2017(Percentage)

    What do developing economies trade with others?

    An analysis of extra-trade by product group shows that developing economies in Africa and America import much higher values of manufactured goods from the rest of the world than they export. In America this is offset by a positive balance in trade for food and for ores, metals, precious stones and non-monetary gold. In Africa, however, it caused an overall extra-trade deficit. This deficit was the equivalent of one quarter of total exports in 2017 despite positive balances in trade of primary commodities except food.

    Extra-trade from developing economies in Asia and Oceania show a slight surplus in 2017, accounting for 9 per cent of exports, mainly because exports of manufactured goods exceed imports.

    Figure 3Developing economies’ extra trade structure, 2017 (Percentage of exports)

    Note: Non-allocated products are not considered.

    Summary tables

    Table 1

    Exports by product group, origin and destination, 2017

    (Millions of United States dollars)*

    All food items

    Origin

    Destination

    World

    Developing economies

    Transition economies

    Developed
    economies

    Total

    Africa

    America

    Asia and Oceania

    World

    1 509 340

    608 992

    81 794

    81 762

    445 437

    49 621

    845 270

    (100)

    (40)

    (5)

    (5)

    (30)

    (3)

    (56)

    Developing economies

    610 951

    365 168

    49 883

    38 004

    277 281

    16 401

    227 292

    (100)

    (60)

    (8)

    (6)

    (45)

    (3)

    (37)

    Developing economies: Africa

    55 832

    29 070

    14 213

    513

    14 344

    1 556

    25 065

    (100)

    (52)

    (25)

    (1)

    (26)

    (3)

    (45)

    Developing economies: America

    221 714

    116 216

    12 833

    31 859

    71 525

    5 856

    98 626

    (100)

    (52)

    (6)

    (14)

    (32)

    (3)

    (44)

    Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

    333 406

    219 882

    22 838

    5 633

    191 412

    8 989

    103 601

    (100)

    (66)

    (7)

    (2)

    (3)

    (31)

    Transition economies

    54 221

    24 337

    6 263

    264

    17 810

    17 059

    12 629

    (100)

    (45)

    (12)

    (0)

    (33)

    (31)

    (23)

    Developed economies

    844 168

    219 487

    25 647

    43 494

    150 346

    16 161

    605 349

    (100)

    (26)

    (3)

    (5)

    (18)

    (2)

    (72)

    *
    Percentage of exports to the whole world in parentheses.

    Agricultural raw materials

    Origin

    Destination

    World

    Developing economies

    Transition economies

    Developed
    economies

    Total

    Africa

    America

    Asia and Oceania

    World

    257 899

    131 435

    7 279

    9 740

    114 416

    4 543

    120 396

    (100)

    (51)

    (3)

    (4)

    (44)

    (2)

    (47)

    Developing economies

    96 648

    63 640

    3 160

    3 495

    56 985

    987

    31 325

    (100)

    (66)

    (3)

    (4)

    (59)

    (1)

    (32)

    Developing economies: Africa

    11 432

    7 540

    1 107

    112

    6 320

    81

    3 805

    (100)

    (66)

    (10)

    (1)

    (55)

    (1)

    (33)

    Developing economies: America

    22 044

    11 294

    156

    1 933

    9 205

    275

    9 866

    (100)

    (51)

    (1)

    (9)

    (42)

    (1)

    (45)

    Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

    63 172

    44 807

    1 898

    1 450

    41 460

    631

    17 654

    (100)

    (71)

    (3)

    (2)

    (66)

    (1)

    (28)

    Transition economies

    13 616

    8 146

    234

    149

    7 764

    1 289

    4 165

    (100)

    (60)

    (2)

    (1)

    (57)

    (9)

    (31)

    Developed economies

    147 635

    59 648

    3 884

    6 097

    49 667

    2 268

    84 906

    (100)

    (40)

    (3)

    (4)

    (34)

    (2)

    (58)

    *
    Percentage of exports to the whole world in parentheses.

    Fuels

    Origin

    Destination

    World

    Developing economies

    Transition economies

    Developed
    economies

    Total

    Africa

    America

    Asia and Oceania

    World

    2 015 416

    977 817

    71 507

    114 407

    791 903

    28 225

    925 770

    (100)

    (49)

    (4)

    (6)

    (39)

    (1)

    (46)

    Developing economies

    1 085 803

    720 016

    44 355

    38 034

    637 627

    1 515

    360 232

    (100)

    (66)

    (4)

    (4)

    (59)

    (0)

    (33)

    Developing economies: Africa

    159 603

    81 250

    14 570

    5 313

    61 366

    173

    77 006

    (100)

    (51)

    (9)

    (3)

    (38)

    (0)

    (48)

    Developing economies: America

    110 504

    60 419

    604

    26 894

    32 921

    29

    49 614

    (100)

    (55)

    (1)

    (24)

    (30)

    (0)

    (45)

    Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

    815 696

    578 347

    29 181

    5 827

    543 339

    1 313

    233 612

    (100)

    (71)

    (4)

    (1)

    (67)

    (0)

    (29)

    Transition economies

    269 789

    61 953

    2 108

    1 808

    58 036

    19 169

    149 631

    (100)

    (23)

    (1)

    (1)

    (22)

    (7)

    (55)

    Developed economies

    659 824

    195 848

    25 043

    74 565

    96 241

    7 541

    415 907

    (100)

    (30)

    (4)

    (11)

    (15)

    (1)

    (63)

    *
    Percentage of exports to the whole world in parentheses.

    Manufactured goods

    Origin

    Destination

    World

    Developing economies

    Transition economies

    Developed
    economies

    Total

    Africa

    America

    Asia and Oceania

    World

    12 248 499

    4 807 949

    343 062

    725 299

    3 739 589

    329 121

    7 077 474

    (100)

    (39)

    (3)

    (6)

    (31)

    (3)

    (58)

    Developing economies

    5 452 799

    2 952 351

    197 127

    305 927

    2 449 296

    115 895

    2 372 609

    (100)

    (54)

    (4)

    (6)

    (45)

    (2)

    (44)

    Developing economies: Africa

    99 597

    48 298

    30 940

    2 334

    15 024

    390

    50 245

    (100)

    (49)

    (31)

    (2)

    (15)

    (0)

    (50)

    Developing economies: America

    497 682

    123 937

    2 671

    97 047

    24 220

    940

    372 153

    (100)

    (25)

    (1)

    (20)

    (5)

    (0)

    (75)

    Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

    4 855 520

    2 780 116

    163 516

    206 546

    2 410 053

    114 565

    1 950 211

    (100)

    (57)

    (3)

    (4)

    (50)

    (2)

    (40)

    Transition economies

    146 322

    40 222

    5 749

    4 814

    29 660

    47 784

    58 031

    (100)

    (28)

    (4)

    (3)

    (20)

    (33)

    (40)

    Developed economies

    6 649 379

    1 815 376

    140 186

    414 558

    1 260 632

    165 442

    4 646 834

    (100)

    (27)

    (2)

    (6)

    (19)

    (3)

    (70)

    *
    Percentage of exports to the whole world in parentheses.

    Ores, metals, precious stones and non-monetary gold

    Origin

    Destination

    World

    Developing economies

    Transition economies

    Developed
    economies

    Total

    Africa

    America

    Asia and Oceania

    World

    1 174 979

    631 163

    20 170

    21 549

    589 444

    11 830

    518 172

    (100)

    (54)

    (2)

    (2)

    (50)

    (1)

    (44)

    Developing economies

    567 106

    368 463

    13 617

    9 674

    345 172

    2 100

    188 267

    (100)

    (65)

    (2)

    (2)

    (61)

    (0)

    (33)

    Developing economies: Africa

    83 666

    48 664

    7 401

    438

    40 825

    376

    29 633

    (100)

    (58)

    (9)

    (1)

    (49)

    (0)

    (35)

    Developing economies: America

    131 465

    70 592

    979

    6 750

    62 863

    525

    59 897

    (100)

    (54)

    (1)

    (5)

    (48)

    (0)

    (46)

    Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

    351 975

    249 208

    5 237

    2 486

    241 485

    1 199

    98 737

    (100)

    (71)

    (1)

    (1)

    (69)

    (0)

    (28)

    Transition economies

    54 041

    15 513

    323

    224

    14 966

    6 463

    32 065

    (100)

    (29)

    (1)

    (0)

    (28)

    (12)

    (59)

    Developed economies

    553 832

    247 187

    6 230

    11 650

    229 307

    3 267

    297 840

    (100)

    (45)

    (1)

    (2)

    (41)

    (1)

    (54)

    *
    Percentage of exports to the whole world in parentheses.