The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2018 provides a wide range of statistics and indicators relevant to the analysis of international trade, investment, maritime transport and development. Reliable statistical information is indispensable for formulating sound policies and recommendations that may commit countries for many years as they strive to integrate into the world economy and improve the living standards of their citizens. Whether for research, consultation or technical cooperation, UNCTAD needs reliable and internationally comparable trade, financial and macroeconomic data, covering several decades and for as many countries as possible.
In addition to facilitating the work of the UNCTAD secretariat, the UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics and the UNCTADstat Data Centre make internationally comparable sets of data available to policymakers, research specialists, academics, officials from national Governments, representatives of international organizations, journalists, executive managers and members of non-governmental organizations.
This year's edition includes, for the first time in the history of the Handbook, short-term forecasts for a selection of key variables: the value of world merchandise exports, the value of world services exports, and world real gross domestic product. This innovation responds to an increased demand for up-to-date information to monitor global international trade, study the impact of economic or political developments, and guide policy responses. The presented forecasts are not derived from global macroeconomic models or exogenous scenarios on the future state of the global economy. They are applications of what is commonly referred to in the literature as a nowcast or contemporaneous forecast: a real-time evaluation of a variable based on a series of relevant and timely indicators. They are based on the latest data available in October 2018. A summary of the methodological approach applied is included in Calculation methods.