Merchandise exports as per cent of gross domestic product, 2019

Different exposures to the downswing in trade 2019

In 2019, merchandise exports decreased considerably, between 2.5 and 3.3 per cent, in all groups of economies classified by development status. The development of imports was more varied: while developing economies of America saw their imports fall by 4.1 per cent, mainly driven by decreases in Mexico, Argentina and Chile, the imports of Africa remained almost constant (-0.3 per cent), whereas those of transition economies surged (+4.6 per cent). In Africa, rocketing imports in Nigeria (+28 per cent) marked a striking deviation from the overall trend.

Figure 2Merchandise trade annual growth rates, 2019 (Percentage)

Development of global trade imbalances

The surge in the transition economies’ imports in 2019, despite decreasing exports, was reflected in a significant reduction of their trade surplus, which had grown continuously during the three previous years. Between 2018 and 2019, the transition economies’ trade balance went down from +US$183 billion to +US$138 billion.

This development was mirrored by a shrinkage of the developed economies’ trade deficit between 2018 (-US$861 billion) and 2019 (-US$822 billion), after three years of growth, and by a slight expansion of the - previously decreasing - surplus in developing economies.

Figure 3Merchandise trade balance (Billions of United States dollars)

Note: Trade balances do not add up to zero at world level due to CIF included in imports and cross-country differences in compilation methods.

Summary tables

Table 1

Merchandise trade by group of economies

Group of economies

Exports

Imports

Trade balance

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Ratio to imports

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Millions of US$)

(Percentage)

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

2019

2019

2019

World

19 007

18 933

-2.8

19 056

19 263

-2.8

-330

-1.7

Developing economies

8 482

8 406

-3.0

8 033

8 053

-3.5

354

4.4

Developing economies: Africa

561

470

-3.8

643

580

-0.3

-110

-18.9

Developing economies: America

1 084

1 056

-2.7

1 159

1 081

-4.1

-25

-2.3

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

6 837

6 880

-3.0

6 231

6 392

-3.6

488

7.6

Transition economies

762

652

-3.3

552

515

4.6

138

26.8

Developed economies

9 764

9 874

-2.5

10 470

10 696

-2.7

-822

-7.7

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

6 139

5 907

-4.4

6 074

5 974

-3.7

-67

-1.1

Developing economies excluding LDCs

8 293

8 216

-3.0

7 778

7 777

-3.6

439

5.6

LDCs

189

190

-3.1

255

276

0.9

-86

-31.0

LLDCs

224

188

-1.9

218

224

4.4

-36

-16.1

SIDS (UNCTAD)

24

16

-12.8

41

37

-3.0

-21

-56.7

HIPCs (IMF)

129

128

-2.4

187

178

-1.1

-50

-28.1

BRICS

3 480

3 559

-0.8

3 091

3 111

-2.8

448

14.4

G20

14 394

14 589

-2.4

14 678

14 867

-3.0

-278

-1.9

Table 2

Merchandise trade of least developed countries, main exporters

Economya

Exports

Imports

Trade balance

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Ratio to imports

(Millions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Millions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Millions of US$)

(Percentage)

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

2019

2019

2019

LDCs

188 860

190 283

-3.1

254 782

275 962

0.9

-85 678

-31.0

LDCs: Africa and Haiti

127 070

107 663

-8.8

151 700

138 228

-0.3

-30 565

-22.1

Angola

59 170

34 726

-14.8

28 580

14 127

-10.6

20 599

145.8

Zambia

9 694

7 047

-22.0

9 707

7 225

-23.7

-178

-2.5

Congo, Dem. Rep. of the

7 915

(e) 6 800

(e) -37.0

7 087

(e) 6 200

(e) -3.1

(e) 600

(e) 9.7

Tanzania, United Republic of

4 628

5 005

23.8

11 993

9 452

3.6

-4 447

-47.1

Mozambique

4 421

(e) 4 550

(e) -9.2

8 747

(e) 7 653

(e) 10.2

(e) -3 104

(e) -40.6

LDCs: Asia

61 200

81 883

5.5

100 834

135 730

2.1

-53 847

-39.7

Bangladesh

30 405

39 337

0.2

41 119

59 094

-2.3

-19 757

-33.4

Myanmar

11 453

18 110

8.4

16 459

18 607

-3.9

-497

-2.7

Cambodia

6 846

(e) 14 700

(e) 15.7

10 692

(e) 20 720

(e) 18.5

(e) -6 020

(e) -29.1

Lao People's Dem. Rep.

2 662

5 764

8.9

4 271

6 252

1.4

-487

-7.8

Yemen

(e) 7 792

(e) 1 434

(e) 5.6

(e) 12 042

(e) 10 407

(e) 26.7

(e) -8 972

(e) -86.2

LDCs: Islands

590

737

-0.9

2 248

2 003

-1.9

-1 266

-63.2

Solomon Islands

459

461

-19.0

499

(e) 590

(e) -1.9

(e) -129

(e) -21.9

Timor-Leste

15

154

239.7

858

591

13.6

-437

-74.0

Comoros

26

49

17.1

278

224

-18.8

-175

-78.1

Vanuatu

63

(e) 48

(e) -23.9

313

(e) 290

(e) -17.2

(e) -242

(e) -83.4

Sao Tome and Principe

17

(e) 13

(e) -21.1

170

148

-0.4

(e) -135

(e) -91.4

a
Within regions, ranked by value of exports in 2019.
Find the data on UNCTADstat
Table 3

Leading exporters and importers in developing economies, by group of economies, 2019

Developing economies: Africa

Exporter

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

South Africa

90

0.48

-4.2

Nigeria

63

0.33

3.3

Algeria

36

0.19

-14.3

Angola

35

0.18

-14.8

Morocco

29

0.15

1.8

Developing Africa

470

2.48

-3.8

Importer

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

South Africa

(e) 108

(e) 0.56

(e) -5.6

Egypt

71

0.37

-1.5

Nigeria

55

0.29

28.5

Morocco

51

0.26

-0.6

Algeria

42

0.22

-9.5

Developing Africa

580

3.01

-0.3

Developing economies: America

Exporter

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

Mexico

461

2.43

2.2

Brazil

225

1.19

-5.8

Chile

70

0.37

-7.1

Argentina

65

0.34

5.4

Peru

48

0.25

-2.8

Developing America

1 056

5.58

-2.7

Importer

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

Mexico

467

2.43

-1.9

Brazil

184

0.96

-2.2

Chile

70

0.36

-6.6

Colombia

53

0.27

2.9

Argentina

49

0.26

-25.0

Developing America

1 081

5.61

-4.1

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

Exporter

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

China

2 499

13.20

0.5

Korea, Republic of

542

2.86

-10.4

China, Hong Kong SAR

535

2.83

-5.9

Singapore

391

2.06

-5.4

China, Taiwan Province of

331

1.75

-1.6

Developing Asia and Oceania

6 880

36.34

-3.0

Importer

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

China

2 078

10.79

-2.7

China, Hong Kong SAR

578

3.00

-7.8

Korea, Republic of

503

2.61

-6.0

India

486

2.52

-5.5

Singapore

359

1.87

-3.1

Developing Asia and Oceania

6 392

33.18

-3.6