Trade structure by partner

World import flows, 2018(Billions of United States dollars)

Notes: Countries with one bilateral import higher than US$125 billion are shown in the default selection.

Find the data on UNCTADstat

Main global trade patterns

The world’s largest bilateral flows of merchandise trade run between China and the United States of America, and between their respective neighboring economies. In 2018, goods worth US$563 billion were imported by the United States from China. Goods worth US$168 billion also travelled in the opposite direction. China’s trade – exports and imports – with Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), Japan, Taiwan, Province of China, and the Republic of Korea totaled US$1.2 trillion. The United States’ trade with Mexico and Canada was worth almost the same amount (US$1.1 trillion).

Intra-regional trade was most pronounced in Europe. In 2018, 69 per cent of all European exports were to trading partners on the same continent. In Asia, this rate was 60 per cent. By contrast, in Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Northern America, most trade was extra-regional.

Figure 1Intra- and extra-regional exports, 2018 (Percentage of total exports)

Trade within and between ‘hemispheres’

In 2018, goods worth US$6.9 trillion were exchanged between developed economies (North-North trade), whereas merchandise trade among developing and transition economies (South-South trade) amounted to US$5.4 trillion. Exports from developed to developing economies and vice-versa (North-South, and South-North trade) totaled US$6.9 trillion. Thus, for developed economies, trade with developing economies was as important as trade with developed.

Figure 2Global trade flows, 2018

Note: North refers to developed economies, South to developing and transition economies; trade is measured from the export side; deliveries to ship stores and bunkers as well as minor and special-category exports with unspecified destination are not included.

With whom do developing economies mainly trade?

In 2018, developing economies shipped most of their exports to the United States of America (US$1.4 trillion), followed by China (US$1.1 trillion) and other Asian economies. They also sourced most of their imports from the same economies.

Exports from American developing economies were more oriented towards America, especially to the United States of America (US$460 billion), than exports from Africa. For African developing economies, more important export markets were in Asia and Europe, with China (US$54 billion) and India (US$37 billion) as main target economies.

Figure 3Developing economies’ main export destinations, 2018 (Billions of United States dollars)

Summary tables

Table 1

Exports by origin and destination, 2018

(Billions of United States dollars)

Origin

Destination

World

Developing economies

Transition economies

Developed
economies

Total

Africa

America

Asia and Oceania

World

19 414

8 064

591

1 076

6 397

474

10 729

(100)

(42)

(3)

(6)

(33)

(2)

(55)

Developing economies

8 649

4 981

342

434

4 205

143

3 480

(100)

(58)

(4)

(5)

(49)

(2)

(40)

Developing economies: Africa

487

250

77

12

161

3

227

(100)

(51)

(16)

(2)

(33)

(1)

(46)

Developing economies: America

1 084

415

16

173

226

8

631

(100)

(38)

(1)

(16)

(21)

(1)

(58)

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

7 077

4 316

249

249

3 818

133

2 622

(100)

(61)

(4)

(4)

(54)

(2)

(37)

Transition economies

682

207

23

10

174

112

360

(100)

(30)

(3)

(1)

(26)

(16)

(53)

Developed economies

10 083

2 876

226

632

2 018

219

6 888

(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

2008

16 135

5 517

481

866

4 169

564

9 959

2013

18 997

8 025

640

1 126

6 260

595

10 121

2018

19 414

8 064

591

1 076

6 397

474

10 729

Developing economies

2008

6 274

3 184

236

373

2 575

123

2 941

2013

8 454

4 952

359

485

4 109

159

3 285

2018

8 649

4 981

342

434

4 205

143

3 480

Developing economies: Africa

2008

550

186

55

18

113

3

357

2013

587

274

86

21

166

3

300

2018

487

250

77

12

161

3

227

Developing economies: America

2008

910

322

19

199

104

10

569

2013

1 117

463

20

219

224

10

634

2018

1 084

415

16

173

226

8

631

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

2008

4 814

2 675

162

156

2 358

111

2 015

2013

6 750

4 216

253

244

3 719

146

2 351

2018

7 077

4 316

249

249

3 818

133

2 622

Transition economies

2008

721

138

12

11

115

144

438

2013

810

187

14

10

163

137

419

2018

682

207

23

10

174

112

360

Developed economies

2008

9 140

2 194

233

482

1 479

296

6 579

2013

9 732

2 886

267

630

1 988

300

6 417

2018

10 083

2 876

226

632

2 018

219

6 888

Table 3

Top destinations of developing economies’ exports

Destination

(Ranked by value of exports)

Rank

2018

2018

2013

Value

Share in
total exports

Cumulative share

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

United States of America

1

1

1 416

16.4

16.4

China

2

2

1 142

13.2

29.6

China, Hong Kong SAR

3

3

526

6.1

35.7

Japan

4

4

463

5.4

41.0

India

5

5

350

4.0

45.1

Korea, Republic of

6

6

304

3.5

48.6

Singapore

7

7

222

2.6

51.1

Viet Nam

8

17

215

2.5

53.6

Germany

9

9

212

2.5

56.1

Netherlands

10

10

202

2.3

58.4

China, Taiwan Province of

11

8

166

1.9

60.3

Malaysia

12

11

163

1.9

62.2

Thailand

13

15

158

1.8

64.0

United Kingdom

14

12

155

1.8

65.8

United Arab Emirates

15

13

147

1.7

67.5

Rest of the world

-

-

2 808

32.5

100.0

World

-

-

8 649

100.0

Table 4

Top origins of developing economies’ imports

Origin

(Ranked by value of imports)

Rank

2018

2018

2013

Value

Share in
total imports

Cumulative share

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

China

1

1

1 269

15.4

15.4

United States of America

2

2

892

10.8

26.2

Japan

3

3

549

6.7

32.8

Korea, Republic of

4

4

461

5.6

38.4

China, Taiwan Province of

5

6

362

4.4

42.8

Germany

6

5

325

3.9

46.7

Malaysia

7

10

226

2.7

49.5

Singapore

8

9

213

2.6

52.1

Australia

9

11

209

2.5

54.6

India

10

12

194

2.4

56.9

Saudi Arabia

11

7

188

2.3

59.2

Brazil

12

14

186

2.3

61.5

Thailand

13

15

178

2.2

63.6

United Arab Emirates

14

13

162

2.0

65.6

Russian Federation

15

19

160

1.9

67.5

Rest of the world

-

-

2 679

32.5

100.0

World

-

-

8 253

100.0