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WTO: 2007 PRESS RELEASES

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WORLD TRADE 2006, PROSPECTS FOR 2007

Risks lie ahead following stronger trade in 2006, WTO reports

Risks in financial and property markets and large trade imbalances in goods and services mean increased uncertainty in 2007 and raise the prospect of weaker economic and trade expansion in the coming year, according to WTO economists. “A successful conclusion to the Doha Round holds great potential for boosting growth and alleviating poverty,” Director-General Pascal Lamy said. “An agreement would also deliver more relevant trade rules, helping to establish a more stable and certain foundation for today’s dynamic global marketplace.”

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Tables and charts:
Chart 1:  Real GDP and trade growth of United States, 2005-06
Chart 2: Growth in the volume of world merchandise trade and GDP, 1996-06
Table 1: GDP and merchandise trade by region, 2004-06
Chart 3: Real merchandise trade growth by region, 2006
Chart 4: Export prices of selected primary products, 2005 and 2006
Chart 5: Dollar changes vis-à-vis selected major currencies, 2001-2006
Table 2: World exports of merchandise and commercial services, 2006
Table 3: World exports of commercial services trade by major category, 2006
Appendix Table 1:
World merchandise trade by region and selected country, 2006
Appendix Table 2:
World exports of commercial services by region, 2006
Appendix Table 3:
Leading exporters and importers in world merchandise trade, 2006
Appendix Table 4:
Leading exporters and importers in world merchandise trade (excluding intra-EU(25) trade), 2006
Appendix Table 5:
Leading exporters and importers in world commercial services trade, 2006

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SEE ALSO:
Press releases
WTO news archives
Pascal Lamy’s speeches

Last year’s press release (11 April 2006)
Trade picks up in mid-2005, but 2006 picture is uncertain

In their preliminary assessment of trade in 2006 and prospects for the coming year, they said the consensus among forecasters of around 3% global economic growth in 2007 could slow merchandise trade growth to about 6% compared with 8% in 2006.

By contrast, the world economy and trade grew vigorously in 2006, the 8% expansion in merchandise trade being the second highest since 2000. Growth in gross domestic product (GDP) — a measure of the size of the economy — was stronger than expected in Europe and Japan. The Chinese and Indian economies continued to record high growth.

Least-developed countries’ trade grew by about 30%, fuelled by higher prices for petroleum and other primary commodities. They and developing countries as a whole saw their shares of world merchandise trade reach record proportions. And for some of the smaller suppliers, fear of a setback in textiles and clothing in the face of competition from China proved unfounded in 2006.

“The strong performance of 2006 is welcome, particularly the gains made by developing and least-developed countries,” WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said. “But this has to be consolidated. The uncertainties that lie ahead are a warning for us not to lose sight of the need to continue to reform the world economy.”

“The best contribution the WTO can make is to keep strengthening the multilateral trading system. One of the unsung achievements of the system is its stabilizing effect on world trade and the global economy. A successful conclusion to the Doha Round holds great potential for boosting growth and alleviating poverty. An agreement would also deliver more relevant trade rules, helping to establish a more stable and certain foundation for today’s dynamic global marketplace.”

Overview of major trade developments in 2006

The overall picture in 2006 was of trade expanding in real terms (i.e. ignoring price changes), faster than output by a large margin. The dollar value of world merchandise exports increased by 15% to $11.76 trillion in 2006. Commercial services exports were up by an estimated 11% and reached $2.71 trillion in 2006.

Price changes affected the nominal merchandise trade growth rates of countries and whole regions. The annual average prices for fuels and metals rose sharply, benefiting the export earnings of fuels and metal exporters.

The four regions with the highest share of fuels and other mining products in their merchandise exports (the Middle East, Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States — CIS — and South and Central America) again recorded the strongest annual export rise in 2006.

The United States recorded its best annual merchandise export growth in more than a decade but its trade deficit continued to grow. However, when adjusted for price changes, US merchandise exports expanded faster than world trade and faster than US imports.

China’s trade growth continued to outstrip other major traders. China’s merchandise exports grew by 27%. In the second half of 2006, its merchandise exports started to exceed those of the United States, but for the whole year US exports still exceeded those of China.

Least-developed countries’ exports rose sharply in 2006 due to much larger values of fuels exports and stronger exports of other primary products and manufactured goods.

Developing countries’ share of world merchandise exports reached an all time record of 36%. The 0.9%,share for least-developed countries was also a record, the highest level since 1980, the earliest data kept by the WTO.

The picture for textiles and clothing is better for small suppliers with preferences in developed country markets than many had feared following the 2005 elimination of quotas and of the WTO’s Agreement on Textiles and Clothing.

As expected, China has enhanced its role as the leading supplier. Low and lower-middle income countries have seen their share of world exports of textiles and clothing increase markedly. The richer developing countries, including the newly-industrializing Asian economies (NICs) and Mexico, lost market share. Some small suppliers also lost shares, but others gained. Overall, in 2006, the least-developed countries increased their shares of developed countries’ textiles imports. The fact that China, India and Bangladesh performed well also means that millions of low-income workers benefited.

Details: the state of the world economy and trade in 2006

The year 2006 witnessed robust growth in the world economy and vigorous trade expansion. Global gross domestic production (GDP) growth accelerated to 3.7%, the second best performance since 2000. All major regions recorded GDP growth in excess of population growth.

Economic growth in the least-developed countries continued to exceed 6% for the third year in a row. A large part of the stronger global economy is attributable to the recovery in Europe, which turned out to be stronger than expected in early 2006. The United States economy maintained its overall expansion as weaker domestic demand was balanced by a reduction in the external deficit, mainly due to a faster export growth. In Japan somewhat faster economic growth was achieved despite weaker domestic demand reflected in a widening of its external surplus. China and India continued to report outstandingly high economic and trade growth.

Strong economic fundamentals in many key economies contributed to stronger investor confidence worldwide. General government deficits decreased in the United States, the European Union and in Japan and inflationary pressures were contained. A high level of global monetary liquidity combined with a low level of real interest rates contributed to a rally on global stock markets. Stock markets in emerging economies again recorded much faster growth than those in developed economies. Increased investor confidence in emerging markets is also reflected in the sharply reduced spread in interest margins between emerging market bonds and those of US government bonds.

The more favourable investment climate is also reflected in a sharp rise in global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in 2006, which approached the record levels of the past. UNCTAD (1) reports that global FDI inflows surged by one-third to $1.23 trillion, the second highest level ever. The high growth of global FDI flows can be attributed partly to increased mergers and acquisitions activity and higher share prices. A high level of total net private capital flows to emerging markets was reported by the Institute of International Finance. (2)

A further sign of high global liquidity is the rise in global foreign exchange reserves and the advanced re-payment of external public debt by a number of developing countries. Debt levels, measured by the outstanding debt to GDP ratios, decreased in all developing regions partly due to debt forgiveness. For the heavily indebted poor countries the debt levels in 2006 are estimated to have come down to half the level reported five years ago. (3)

The real effective exchange rate of the US dollar continued to depreciate moderately, contributing to the readjustment of the US current account deficit (the trade deficit in goods and services)(4). The exchange rates of the Asian economies with large current account surpluses fared differently in 2006. On an annual average basis, real effective exchange rates appreciated significantly in the case of the Republic of Korea and Singapore and moderately in the case of China. The Japanese Yen, however, continued to depreciate in 2006.(5)

High global liquidity and a further steep rise in the price of fuels and nominal interest rates has not so far translated into higher domestic inflation rates. In developed markets consumer price increases averaged between 2% and 3%, and in the developing economies the rate was about 5%. In both developed and developing regions no acceleration in consumer price inflation was observed between 2005 and 2006 (6). However, inflationary pressures can be detected in sectors for which supply is less elastic, such as real estate markets and auction prices for works of art.

The strong global macro-economic situation in 2006 provided a favourable framework for the expansion of international trade. In 2006, world merchandise exports grew in real terms (i.e. at constant prices) by 8.0%, compared to 6.5% in the preceding year. A large part of this trade acceleration can be attributed to the marked recovery in Europe’s export and import growth. Higher prices of fuels and metals led to a stagnation in the quantity of mining products traded internationally but the higher export earnings of oil exporters resulted in import growth in excess of the world average. High energy prices also invigorated demand for mining equipment and investment in machinery with high energy efficiency.

China’s merchandise trade expansion remained outstandingly strong in 2006. Office and telecom equipment continued to be the mainstay of Chinese export growth but significant gains in world market shares in 2006 could be observed in “traditional” exports such as clothing and “new” products such as iron and steel. Chinese imports again rose faster than global trade but continued to lag behind export growth.

Trade prospects for 2007

The marked correction in share prices observed on global stock markets at the end of February 2007 highlighted the increased uncertainty of investors with respect to the short-term prospects of the world economy. The consensus among forecasters favours a moderate deceleration in world economic growth in 2007 (7). The economic fundamentals in the major economies are strong enough to keep global economic growth close to 3% (GDP measured at market exchange rates).

US domestic demand slowed markedly in the second half of 2006 and is expected to weaken further in the first half of 2007. Imports of goods and services contracted between the third and fourth quarter (on a seasonally adjusted basis) and should remain subdued in the first half of 2007 (see Chart 1). The slowdown in GDP growth in Europe is expected to be less pronounced than in the United States (and could be avoided in Japan), maintaining developed countries economic growth close to 2.5% in 2007. Demand in the oil importing countries is expected to benefit from on average lower import prices of fuels in 2007. Although endogenous factors have played an increasing role in developing country economic performance over the last decade, the slowdown in industrial markets is likely to contribute to less dynamic growth in the developing world, which is still expected to grow at least twice as fast as the developed markets. The most likely scenario is that GDP growth in 2007 will slow down in all regions, with relatively even growth among the regions in the developed and developing areas.

Chart 1: Real GDP and trade growth of United States, 2005-06    back to top


Source: OECD, Olisnet.

The major risks to this scenario are found in financial market developments, a dramatic downturn in the property markets, and the continued existence of large current account imbalances. The search for high yield investments has led to a rapid expansion of financial instruments (hedge funds, carry trade).

Assuming the basic scenario of global economic GDP growth of nearly 3%, global merchandise trade could slow down to about 6% in 2007, or 2 percentage points less than in 2006. This estimate is supported by the results of the Secretariat’s time series forecasting model which predicts a slowdown in the OECD area’s imports of goods and services to 4.5%, a 2.5 percentage point decrease from the rate observed in 2006.

The downside risks associated with this trade projection include a stronger than expected correction in highly priced property markets, a pickup in inflation, and risk perceptions that could lead to a further rise of interest rates. Interest rate rises could trigger a correction of stock and bond markets and lower then predicted levels of investment and private consumption.

Real merchandise trade developments and output in 2006

The pick up in global economic activity was the major factor in the vigorous expansion of global trade in 2006. Real merchandise export growth is provisionally estimated to have grown by 8.0% in 2006, almost two percentage points faster than in 2005, and well above the average expansion of the last decade (1996-2006). The expansion of real trade exceeded global output growth by more than 4 percentage points (see Chart 2).

Chart 2: Growth in the volume of world merchandise trade and GDP, 1996-06    back to top
(Annual percentage change)


Source: WTO.

In 2006, the variation in regional real trade growth increased even though economic growth by region differed less than in the preceding year. These divergent developments can be attributed largely to the terms of trade changes in favour of fuel-exporting countries and regions. The North American region comprises two net exporters of fuels and the United States, which is a major net importer of fuels. The real merchandise exports of the United States rose by 10.5% in 2006, which was the highest growth rate since 1997 and almost two times faster than its import growth. Energy related petroleum products decreased by 2.5% in volume terms. Weaker domestic demand in the United States, a lower real effective (i.e. trade weighted) dollar exchange rate, and stronger global demand growth contributed to this favourable development. Canada’s merchandise exports slowed down markedly due to the combination of lower US demand and a marked appreciation of the Canadian dollar since 2002. Mexican merchandise trade expanded vigorously with both imports and exports up by double digit rates as its economy recorded its best growth since 2000.

At 13.5%, Asia’s real merchandise exports remained the most buoyant of all regions. Asia’s imports rose faster than in the preceding year and faster than world trade but continued to lag behind its export growth. Most of the excess of Asia’s export over import growth can be attributed to the region’s major traders, China and Japan. The expansion of China’s exports was somewhat less dynamic in 2006 than in 2005, while Japan, the Republic of Korea and Chinese Taipei recorded a faster growth (between 10% and 15%). Imports into Japan and Chinese Taipei, however, advanced by only 2% to 3% in 2006.

Table 1: GDP and merchandise trade by region, 2004-06
(Annual percentage change at constant prices)

 

GDP

Exports

Imports

 

2004

2005

2006

2004

2005

2006

2004

2005

2006

North America

3.9

3.2

3.4

8.0

6.0

8.5

10.5

6.5

6.5

United States

3.9

3.2

3.4

8.5

8.0

10.5

11.0

6.0

5.5

South and Central America a

6.9

5.2

5.2

13.0

8.0

2.0

18.5

14.0

10.5

Europe

2.4

1.8

2.8

7.0

4.0

7.5

7.0

4.0

7.0

European Union (25)

2.3

1.6

2.8

7.0

4.0

7.5

6.5

3.5

6.5

Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

 8.0

  6.7

  7.5

12.0

3.5

3.0

16.0

18.0

20.0

Africa and Middle East

6.0

5.5

5.4

8.0

5.0

1.0

14.0

13.0

8.5

Asia

4.8

4.1

4.4

15.5

11.5

13.5

14.5

8.0

8.5

China

10.1

9.9

10.7

24.0

25.0

22.0

21.5

11.5

16.5

Japan b

2.7

1.9

2.2

13.5

5.0

10.0

6.5

2.0

2.0

India

8.0

8.5

8.3

15.5

20.5

11.5

16.0

20.5

12.0

World

3.9

3.2

3.7

10.0

6.5

8.0

...

...

...

a Includes the Caribbean.
b Trade volume data are derived from customs values deflated by standard unit values and an adjusted price index for electronic goods.
Source: WTO.

Europe’s real merchandise exports recorded their strongest annual growth since 2000, exceeding import growth (estimated at 7%) but continued to lag behind the global rate of trade expansion. European countries recorded considerable variation in their trade performance. Double-digit export growth can be observed for the countries at its eastern border, ranging from Finland and the Baltic states in the North to Turkey in the South. All these countries benefited from further integration with the EU and the strength of import demand from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region. Both Germany and the United Kingdom recorded export and import growth well above the European average, while real trade growth was sluggish in Italy and Spain and stagnated in France and Ireland.

The four net fuel exporting regions (CIS, Middle East, Africa and South/Central America and the Caribbean) only recorded a small increase in their export volume (of about 2 percentage points), while their imports rose faster than global trade in 2006 (Chart 3). The most buoyant imports of all regions were observed for Commonwealth of Independent States, which are estimated to have expanded by 20%, while the region’s real exports remained sluggish in 2006. In contrast to these global trade developments, South and Central America’s expansion rate of both exports and imports decelerated in 2006. Venezuela recorded a marked contraction of her exports and those of Brazil rose by less than 4%. The combined exports of Africa and the Middle East are estimated to have almost stagnated, while imports, despite their deceleration, continued to expand somewhat faster than the global average. While the slowdown in the exports of these regions can be linked to reduced demand for the more expensive categories of fuels and metals, the increase in imports might be considered modest given the outstanding income growth of these regions over the last three years. (8)

Chart 3: Real merchandise trade growth by region, 2006 back to top
(Annual percentage change)


a Includes the Caribbean.
Source: WTO.

Nominal merchandise and commercial services trade developments in 2006 (9)   

World merchandise exports in dollar value terms were strongly affected by price developments in 2006. Price developments differed widely by sector in the course of the year. According to the IMF commodity price indices, the world export prices of minerals and non-ferrous metals increased by 56%, those of fuels by 20% and those of food and agricultural raw materials by 10%. Export prices of manufactured goods are estimated to have increased by not more than 3% (10).

Chart 4: Export prices of selected primary products, 2005 and 2006    back to top
(Annual percentage change)


a Comprising coffee, cocoa beans and tea.
Source: IMF, International Financial Statistics.

Price changes for manufactured goods remained less strong than those for primary products for the third consecutive year. An important element in the moderate price trends for manufactured goods was the continued decline in prices for electronic goods, which accounted for more than one in six dollars of world exports of manufactured goods in 2005. These shifts in relative prices are explained largely by the different regional export unit values (prices) which ranged from 4% to 5% for Asia and Europe to about 18% to 20% for exports of South and Central America, Africa, the Middle East and the CIS. Information on price trends for world commercial services trade are not available. However, the price deflators for US services exports and imports increased between 3% and 4% in 2006, somewhat less rapidly than in the preceding year.

Overall exchange rate developments in 2006 only had a moderate impact on the dollar price level of internationally traded goods. Contrary to developments between 2002 and 2004, the average annual exchange rate change between the US dollar and the euro and the British pound had been rather moderate as divergent developments in the course of 2005 and 2006 balanced each other. While a weaker yen might have contributed to weaker dollar export prices of Japan, the appreciation of the Canadian dollar and the currencies of several Asian traders had the opposite effect (see Chart 5).

Chart 5: Dollar changes vis-à-vis selected major currencies, 2001-2006    back to top
(Indices, January 2001=100)

a Trade weighted currency basket of the Korean won, the Singapore dollar and Chinese Taipei dollar.
Source: IMF, International Financial Statistics.

World merchandise exports in dollar terms rose by 15.4% to $11.76 trillion. About 40% of this value change can be attributed to inflation. Commercial services exports rose by 11% to $2.71 trillion. The increase in commercial services exports in 2006 was about the same as in the preceding year and for the fourth consecutive year less pronounced than that of merchandise trade. It is uncertain to what extent divergent relative price developments have contributed to the differences in the growth of merchandise and commercial services trade values.

Table 2: World exports of merchandise and commercial services, 2006    back to top
(Billion dollars and percentage)

 

Value

Annual percentage change

 

2006

2000-06

2004

2005

2006

Merchandise

11762

11

22

14

15

Commercial services

2710

10

20

11

11

Source: WTO.

Merchandise exports by region in dollar terms have been strongly affected again by price developments. The four regions with the highest share of fuels and other mining products in their merchandise exports — the Middle East (70% in 2005), Africa (65%), the Commonwealth of Independent States (60%) and South/Central America (37%) again recorded the strongest annual export increases in 2006. However, as prices of fuels increased in 2006 less rapidly than in 2005, the sharp rise in the export values of these regions were in effect smaller than in the preceding year. The opposite development can be observed for the net importers of fuels — North America, Europe and Asia reported a faster export growth in 2006 than in 2005, although the growth in their shipments remained less strong than that of the fuel exporting regions.

Although Europe’s merchandise exports recorded the weakest regional growth rate (13%), its share in world merchandise exports, at 42%, remained the largest of all regions. Europe’s imports rose by 14% to $5.22 trillion. Intra-EU (25) trade rose by 13%, which was somewhat stronger than export growth to third countries (11%) but slower than imports from third countries (15%). The Baltics and the Balkan states continued to record export and import growth in excess of 20%. The combined exports/imports of the Balkan states exceed those of Turkey, whose exports and imports also expanded faster than those of total Europe.

In North America, Mexico reported stronger export and import growth than its NAFTA partners. The United States reported its best annual export growth performance (14%) in more than a decade, and although US export growth exceeded its import growth (11%), the merchandise trade deficit had grown already so large that it continued to grow in 2006. Only in the fourth quarter, supported by the decline in import volumes and falling import prices for crude oil, did the US merchandise trade deficit started to decrease.

Asia’s merchandise exports and imports continued to expand faster than world trade in 2006. Among the six major Asian traders China continued to record the highest export and import growth, and as its export growth continued to exceed its import growth, the merchandise trade surplus rose sharply. In the course of 2006, China’s trade surplus widened further as the momentum in the export expansion was maintained while nominal import growth slackened, partly due to weaker oil prices. The dollar value of Japan’s merchandise exports grew by nearly 9% but continued to lag behind the expansion of world trade and its own import growth. The fast growing economies of India and Viet Nam reported a vigorous expansion of exports and imports, in the range of 20% to 35% in 2006. Since 1995, the exports and imports of these two countries have expanded faster than Asia’s trade and their share in world merchandise exports increased markedly. Among the smaller Asian traders, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Mongolia continued their double-digit export expansion, a feature since 2003, with exports up between 20% and 44% in 2006. The merchandise trade of New Zealand virtually stagnated while that of Chinese Taipei and the Philippines was less dynamic than world trade in 2006.

Africa’s merchandise exports rose by 21%, again faster than imports, which are estimated to have increased by nearly 16%. The share of Africa in world merchandise exports reached its highest level since 1990. Although most of Africa’s export growth can be attributed to the rise in oil exports, it is a noticeable development that non-oil exporting African countries increased their exports by about 16%. It is estimated that about one in 10 African countries experienced a decline in their exports, while half of them recorded an export expansion which exceeded the global average. South Africa, the region’s largest merchandise trader, reported a rise in its imports of 24% while exports advanced by 13%.

Middle Eastern trade has been strongly affected by political and oil market developments. The region’s merchandise exports are estimated to have grown by 19%, roughly in line with crude oil prices. Merchandise imports increased by 14% which must be considered a rather moderate increase given the surge in the region’s export earnings and foreign exchange reserves in the past years.

Among the seven geographic regions distinguished in this report, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) recorded the most dynamic export and import growth in 2006. Benefiting from strong fuel and metal prices on world markets, the region’s exports increased by one-quarter last year to $422 billion, more than twice the level recorded only three years ago. Imports rose by nearly one-third to $278 billion, but the region’s merchandise trade surplus continued to expand by about $20 billion in 2006.

South/Central America’s merchandise exports and imports continued to expand faster than world trade in 2006 even though their growth was less pronounced than in the preceding year. The deceleration in the region’s export growth is attributable largely to the performance of the region’s oil exporters and Brazil. Sharply higher prices for metals benefited exports from Chile, Jamaica, Peru and Suriname. The exports of Chile and Peru surged by more than 40%, the highest export growth rates reported in the region in 2006.

Box: Textiles and clothing trade developments in 2006

In the second year after the phasing out of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, the structural changes in world trade of textiles and clothing continued unabatedly. Exporters from developed countries and those from advanced developing economies in East Asia are losing market share, together with major developing suppliers in Central America and the Mediterranean region, which process textiles originating from developed countries. China’s exports continued to gain market share in all major developed import markets despite restrictions introduced in 2005. Some smaller suppliers expanded their textiles and clothing exports even faster than China and the share of least-developed countries in imports of the United States and the European Union increased sharply in 2006.

The annual expansion rate of textiles and clothing imports from China into Canada, the United States and the EU was roughly halved between 2005 and 2006 in each of these three markets. The combined textiles imports of the three economies from China rose by 41% in 2005 and is estimated to have increased by 15% in 2006. Despite the sharp deceleration this rate is still about twice the rate of imports from all sources (with EU intra-trade excluded). These import developments suggest that the introduction of quotas in the United States and the EU in the course of 2005 had a restrictive effect on textiles imports from China. On the other hand, the deceleration in textiles exports from China to Canada was about the same as to the United States in the absence of any new quotas. The new restrictions also had no apparent effect on China’s overall exports of textiles and clothing to the world, which increased in 2006 by one quarter — somewhat faster than in 2005 (21%).

Imports of textiles and clothing of the four major developed markets (incl. Japan) are estimated to have increased by 5.5%, to about $350 billion in 2006. This increase was slightly faster than in the preceding year despite the deceleration in US import growth, to less than 4%. In contrast to the moderate overall import growth, intra-NAFTA textiles (and clothing) trade was declining and that of intra-EU(25) stagnated in 2006. US imports from CAFTA members and the Dominican Republic, and Sub-Saharan Africa, declined by 7% and 10% respectively. The strongest decline in US imports (–14%) was observed for the more advanced economies in Asia (i.e. Hong Kong, China, Chinese Taipei and the Republic of Korea). US imports from the EU (25), which still exceeded those from India in 2005, decreased by 2.5% in 2006.

The import decline from these suppliers was balanced by a double digit increase of imports from six Asian countries. While imports from China increased by 15% and accounted for nearly 30% of total US imports of textiles and clothing, the rise in imports from Indonesia, Viet Nam, Bangladesh and Cambodia exceeded that from China. Imports from India, a major supplier to the United States, rose 12% in 2006, which was less than the rate recorded by China.

The re-shuffling of EU import shares had similarities with those of the US market. Some of the major traditional suppliers (e.g. Turkey, Romania, Morocco, Tunisia) lost market shares while Asian developing countries increased their share. As in the US market, China expanded its role as leading supplier, but imports from smaller Asian suppliers tended to rise faster than those from China. Rather untypical is the sharp rise of EU clothing imports from Hong Kong, China in 2006.

Among the developed markets Japan’s textiles and clothing imports are the most concentrated on China due both to geographic proximity and the absence of import quotas in the recent past. More than three quarters of Japan’s textiles and clothing imports originated from China in 2006. The share exceeds 80% for clothing imports.

At nearly 9%, Canada recorded with the strongest rise in textiles and clothing imports of the four major developed markets in 2006. Imports from China rose by more than 20%. The structural shifts among suppliers observed in 2006 were similar to those observed in the US market.

Imports of textiles and clothing into major markets by origin, 2006
(Billion dollars and percentage change)

 

United States

EU(25)

Japan

Canada

 

 

(Jan-Nov)

 

 

World (value)

106.4

183.6

30.0

11.2

 

Annual Growth

World

4

6

6

9

 

 

 

 

 

China

15

10

8

22

India

8

13

12

6

Pakistan

12

12

-7

9

Bangladesh

22

34

4

19

Cambodia

25

19

...

21

Indonesia

25

19

4

18

Philippines

9

26

...

5

Viet Nam

18

51

6

33

Thailand

1

11

-2

0

Sri Lanka

2

24

12

...

East Asia (4)

-14

33

-5

-12

 

 

 

 

 

Sub-Saharan Africa

-10

9

...

...

Egypt

32

14

...

...

Morocco

69

3

...

...

Tunisia

...

0

29

—-

 

 

 

 

 

CAFTA

-7

...

...

...

Mexico

-10

13

6

7

Canada

-7

6

-7

...

United States

...

11

-3

-1

 

 

 

 

 

EU(25)

-3

1

-2

2

Romania

15

0

...

...

Bulgaria

-18

12

...

...

Turkey

-17

4

20

-1

 

 

 

 

 

Memorandum items:

 

 

 

 

Least-developed countries

14

30

27

17

Hong Kong , China

...

67

...

...

Note: East Asia(4) comprises Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong China, Macao China and the Republic of Korea. EU(25) imports include intra-trade.
Source: Global Trade Atlas and Eurostat, COMEXT data base.

It is clear from the discussion above that trade expansion in 2006 was very favourable for the developing countries as a group. Their combined merchandise exports rose by 20%, to $4.27 trillion, and imports rose by 17%. The share of developing countries in world merchandise exports reached with 36%, an all-time record level. The share of developing countries in world merchandise imports was 31%, the largest share in more than a quarter of a century. For the least-developed countries, the expansion of merchandise exports has been even stronger than for the developing countries over the last six years, including 2006. Least-developed countries’ exports are estimated to have increased by about 30%, to $108 billion in 2006. Their share in world merchandise exports reached 0.9%, the highest level since 1980 (the first year for which records are kept). Merchandise imports rose by 17%, which was far less rapid than merchandise exports, leading the least-developed countries as a group to record a trade surplus for the first time. Because of differences in commodity composition, individual country performance, and relative country size, aggregations such as developing countries and least-developed countries are increasingly less meaningful for trade analysis (see Appendix Table 1)

The review of world merchandise trade by leading exporters and importers reconfirms the importance of price developments and the outstanding trade performance of China and India. Among the thirty leading merchandise exporters, the eight most dynamic (with export values up by more than 20% in 2006) comprise five oil exporters, one metal exporter (Chile) and China and India (11). Moderate and sluggish export value growth of less than 10% was reported by Japan (9%), France (6%), Spain (7%) and Ireland (3%). The merchandise imports of these latter countries also expanded far less rapidly than the world average. The ten leading exporters comprise the same countries as the group of the top ten leading importers, and although the annual variation of trade differed markedly between the leading traders, the ranking did not change from the preceding year, with the single exception of the merchandise imports of the United Kingdom, which again surpassed those of Japan (see Appendix Table 3 and 4).

Since 2000, China has more than doubled its share in world merchandise exports and ranks as the third largest exporter and importer in merchandise trade. Despite its strong export expansion, China remained the third largest merchandise exporter in 2006. However, in the second half of 2006, China’s merchandise exports exceeded those of the United States for the first time.

World commercial services exports rose by 11% to $2.7 trillion in 2006 (12). The expansion rate of global services trade was basically unchanged from the preceding year and that of the last six years. Since 2003, commercial services exports expanded less rapidly each year than merchandise trade.

Among the three broad commercial services categories, transportation, travel and “other commercial services”, the latter is by far the largest and also the fastest growing category. In 2006, other commercial services categories expanded by 13% while transportation and travel services were up by 9% and 7% respectively. In the 1990s, transportation services expanded less rapidly than travel, but since 2000 the situation has been reversed. The relatively sluggish growth of travel services can be observed in all major exporting regions but is most pronounced in North America’s services trade.

Table 3: World exports of commercial services trade by major category, 2006    back to top
(Billion dollars and percentage change)

 

Value

Annual percentage change

 

2006

2000-06

2004

2005

2006

Commercial services

2710

10

20

11

11

Transport

626

10

25

12

9

Travel

737

7

18

8

7

Other commercial services

1347

12

19

12

13

Source: WTO.

Commercial services trade by region is presented in Appendix Table 2. Europe and North America, recorded — as in the preceding year — export and import growth below the world average. Within the European Union services trade developments by member differed widely: services exports of France and Finland are reported to have declined, while those of Luxembourg and Poland expanded by one-quarter or more (13). The CIS region reports export and import growth rates of commercial services of about 20%, the fastest growth of all regions.

Asia’s commercial services exports continued for the third consecutive year to expand faster than the global average and faster than the region’s services imports, thereby reducing the region’s deficit in services trade. Japan, the region’s largest commercial services trader, increased its commercial services exports by 12% and its imports by 8%. Among the major Asian traders India continues to excel in terms of its services trade expansion. While the dynamic growth of India’s commercial — and in particular software services (14) — exports are widely reported, the dynamic expansion of its services imports attracts less attention even though the growth rate in 2006 exceeded that of exports. According to the most recent numbers, India’s commercial services imports are only about 5% short of its commercial services exports.

The commercial services trade of Africa and the Middle East are provisionally estimated to have expanded close to the world average in 2006. But limitations in data availability could make these estimates subject to larger revisions than for the estimates provided for other regions.

The trade performance of the leading commercial services exporter and importer differed widely in 2006. The shifts in ranking should be interpreted with caution as they might be due to changes in methodology, and given the incomplete data of major traders, will be subject to revisions.

On the basis of the preliminary data, it appears that the three top leading traders, namely the United states, the United Kingdom and Germany, maintained their rank for both exports and imports. If the export contraction of France’s commercial services is confirmed, Japan would replace it as the world’s fourth largest services exporter. Italy moved ahead of Spain to rank as the sixth largest exporter. China’s commercial services exports are estimated to have surpassed those of the Netherlands and India, entering the group of the top ten exporters by moving ahead of Hong Kong, China (15).

On the import side, no change occurred among the top ten positions in 2006. According to the provisional data, India’s imports are estimated to have exceeded slightly those of the Republic of Korea, even though the latter imports also increased strongly in 2006.  (16)

 

Appendix Table 1
World merchandise trade by region and selected country, 2006    back to top
(Billion dollars and percentage)

 

Exports

Imports

 

Value

Annual percentage change

Value

Annual percentage change

 

2006

2000-06

2004

2005

2006

2006

2000-06

2004

2005

2006

World

11762

11

22

14

15

12080

11

22

13

14

North America

1675

5

14

12

13

2546

7

17

14

11

United States

1037

5

13

11

14

1920

7

17

14

11

Canada

388

6

16

14

8

357

7

14

15

11

Mexico

250

7

14

13

17

268

7

16

13

15

South and Central America a

426

14

30

24

20

351

9

28

23

18

Brazil

137

16

32

23

16

88

7

31

17

14

Other South and Central America a

289

13

29

25

22

262

10

27

25

19

Europe

4957

11

20

9

13

5218

11

20

10

14

European Union (25)

4527

11

19

8

12

4743

11

20

9

14

Germany

1112

12

21

7

15

910

11

18

9

17

United Kingdom

443

8

14

11

15

601

10

20

9

17

France

490

7

15

3

6

533

8

18

7

6

Italy

410

9

18

5

10

436

11

19

8

13

Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

422

19

36

28

24

278

23

31

25

29

Russian Federation

305

19

35

33

25

164

24

28

29

31

Africa

361

16

31

30

21

290

14

28

20

16

South Africa

58

12

26

12

13

77

17

35

17

24

Africa  less  South Africa

303

17

32

34

23

213

13

26

22

13

Oil exporters b

212

19

40

46

25

81

18

33

25

18

Non oil exporters

90

13

20

14

17

131

11

23

20

10

Middle East

644

16

33

35

19

373

14

31

19

14

Asia

3276

12

25

16

18

3023

12

27

17

16

China

969

25

35

28

27

792

23

36

18

20

Japan

647

5

20

5

9

577

7

19

13

12

India

120

19

30

30

21

174

23

37

41

25

Four East Asian traders  c

844

9

25

12

15

787

9

27

13

17

Memorandum items:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MERCOSUR

190

14

28

21

16

134

7

38

20

17

ASEAN

771

10

20

15

18

683

10

25

17

14

EU (25) extra-trade

1480

11

21

11

11

1697

11

21

15

15

Developing economies

4274

14

27

22

20

3749

13

29

18

17

Least Developed Countries

108

20

32

36

30

101

15

18

21

17

a Includes the Caribbean. For composition of groups see the Technical Notes of WTO, International Trade Statistics, 2006.
b Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Libya, Nigeria, Sudan.
c Chinese Taipei; Hong Kong, China; Republic of Korea and Singapore.
Source: WTO.

Appendix Table 2
World exports of commercial services by region, 2006    back to top
(Billion dollars and percentage)

 

Exports

Imports

 

Value

Annual percentage change

Value

Annual percentage change

 

2006

2000-06

2004

2005

2006

2006

2000-06

2004

2005

2006

World

2710

10

20

11

11

2620

10

19

11

10

North America

460

6

13

10

9

401

7

15

9

9

United States

387

6

14

10

9

307

7

16

9

9

South and Central America a

77

9

16

18

14

80

7

14

21

14

Brazil

18

12

21

28

21

27

9

12

38

20

Europe

1382

11

20

9

9

1223

10

17

8

8

European Union (25)

1247

12

19

9

9

1132

10

16

8

8

United Kingdom

223

11

25

5

9

169

10

18

10

6

Germany

164

13

17

10

11

214

8

13

4

7

France

112

6

11

6

-2

108

10

19

8

3

Italy

100

10

18

7

13

101

11

12

9

14

Spain

100

12

16

9

8

77

15

24

11

18

Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

51

20

29

20

21

74

21

28

19

19

Russian Federation

30

21

26

21

22

45

18

23

18

17

Africa

64

13

21

12

12

80

13

23

21

12

Egypt

16

9

30

3

10

10

6

24

27

9

South Africa

12

16

16

15

8

14

16

28

18

17

Middle East

63

11

16

14

9

96

12

23

19

10

Israel

19

4

21

10

9

15

4

15

7

8

Asia

614

12

27

14

15

666

10

24

12

14

Japan

121

9

25

14

12

143

4

21

2

8

China

87

...

34

19

...

100

...

31

16

...

India

73

...

...

...

34

70

...

...

...

40

Four East Asian traders b

208

10

22

9

14

197

10

23

10

12

a Includes the Caribbean. For composition of groups see the Technical Notes of WTO, International Trade Statistics, 2006.
b Chinese Taipei; Hong Kong, China; Republic of Korea and Singapore.
Note: While provisional full year data were available in early March for 33 countries accounting for more than 60% of world commercial services trade, estimates for most other countries are based on data for the first three quarters (the first six months in the case of China).
Source: WTO.

Appendix Table 3
Leading exporters and importers in world merchandise trade, 2006    back to top
(Billion dollars and percentage)

Rank

Exporters

Value

Share

Annual % change

Rank

Importers

Value

Share

Annual % change

1

Germany

1112

9.2

15

1

United States

1920

15.5

11

2

United States

1037

8.6

14

2

Germany

910

7.4

17

3

China

969

8.0

27

3

China

792

6.4

20

4

Japan

647

5.4

9

4

United Kingdom

601

4.9

17

5

France

490

4.1

6

5

Japan

577

4.7

12

6

Netherlands

462

3.8

14

6

France

533

4.3

6

7

United Kingdom

443

3.7

15

7

Italy

436

3.5

13

8

Italy

410

3.4

10

8

Netherlands

416

3.4

14

9

Canada

388

3.2

8

9

Canada

357

2.9

11

10

Belgium

372

3.1

11

10

Belgium

356

2.9

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

Korea, Republic of

326

2.7

15

11

Hong Kong, China

336

2.7

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

retained imports a, b

36

0.3

...

12

Hong Kong, China

323

2.7

10

12

Spain

319

2.6

10

 

domestic exports b

23

0.2

...

 

 

 

 

 

 

re-exports b

300

2.5

...

 

 

 

 

 

13

Russian Federation

305

2.5

25

13

Korea, Republic of

309

2.5

18

14

Singapore

272

2.3

18

14

Mexico b

268

2.2

15

 

domestic exports

143

1.2

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

re-exports

129

1.1

22

 

 

 

 

 

15

Mexico

250

2.1

17

15

Singapore

239

1.9

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

retained imports a

110

0.9

16

16

Taipei, Chinese

224

1.9

13

16

Taipei, Chinese

203

1.6

11

17

Saudi Arabia b

209

1.7

16

17

India

174

1.4

25

18

Spain

206

1.7

7

18

Russian Federation c

164

1.3

31

19

Malaysia

161

1.3

14

19

Switzerland

141

1.1

12

20

Switzerland

147

1.2

13

20

Australia b

140

1.1

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21

Sweden

147

1.2

13

21

Austria

139

1.1

9

22

United Arab Emirates

139

1.2

21

22

Turkey

137

1.1

17

23

Austria

138

1.1

11

23

Malaysia

131

1.1

14

24

Brazil

137

1.1

16

24

Thailand

129

1.0

9

25

Thailand

131

1.1

19

25

Sweden

126

1.0

13

26

Australia

123

1.0

16

26

Poland

124

1.0

22

27

Norway

122

1.0

17

27

United Arab Emirates b

95

0.8

17

28

India

120

1.0

21

28

Czech Republic

93

0.8

22

29

Ireland

113

0.9

3

29

Brazil

88

0.7

14

30

Poland

110

0.9

23

30

Denmark

86

0.7

14

 

Total of above d

10033

83.2

-

 

Total of above d

10340

83.5

-

 

World d

12062

100.0

15

 

World d

12380

100.0

14

a Retained imports are defined as imports less re-exports.
b Secretariat estimates.
c Imports are valued f.o.b.
d Includes significant re-exports or imports for re-export.
Source: WTO.

Appendix Table 4
Leading exporters and importers in world merchandise trade (excluding intra-EU(25) trade), 2006    back to top
(Billion dollars and percentage)

Rank

Exporters

Value

Share

Annual % change

Rank

Importers

Value

Share

Annual % change

1

Extra-EU (25) exports

1480

16.4

11

1

United States

1920

20.6

11

2

United States

1037

11.5

14

2

Extra-EU (25) imports

1697

18.2

15

3

China

969

10.7

27

3

China

792

8.5

20

4

Japan

647

7.2

9

4

Japan

577

6.2

12

5

Canada

388

4.3

8

5

Canada

357

3.8

11

6

Korea, Republic of

326

3.6

15

6

Hong Kong, China

336

3.6

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

retained imports a, b

36

0.4

...

7

Hong Kong, China

323

3.6

10

7

Korea, Republic of

309

3.3

18

 

domestic exports b

23

0.3

...

 

 

 

 

 

 

re-exports b

300

3.3

...

 

 

 

 

 

8

Russian Federation

305

3.4

25

8

Mexico b

268

2.9

15

9

Singapore

272

3.0

18

9

Singapore

239

2.6

19

 

domestic exports

143

1.6

15

 

retained imports a

110

1.2

16

 

re-exports

129

1.4

22

 

 

 

 

 

10

Mexico

250

2.8

17

10

Taipei, Chinese

203

2.2

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

Taipei, Chinese

224

2.5

13

11

India

174

1.9

25

12

Saudi Arabia b

209

2.3

16

12

Russian Federation c

164

1.8

31

13

Malaysia

161

1.8

14

13

Switzerland

141

1.5

12

14

Switzerland

147

1.6

13

14

Australia b

140

1.5

11

15

United Arab Emirates

139

1.5

21

15

Turkey

137

1.5

17

16

Brazil

137

1.5

16

16

Malaysia

131

1.4

14

17

Thailand

131

1.4

19

17

Thailand

129

1.4

9

18

Australia

123

1.4

16

18

United Arab Emirates b

95

1.0

17

19

Norway

122

1.3

17

19

Brazil

88

0.9

14

20

India

120

1.3

21

20

Indonesia

78

0.8

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21

Indonesia

104

1.2

21

21

South Africa b

77

0.8

24

22

Turkey

85

0.9

16

22

Saudi Arabia b

65

0.7

9

23

Iran, Islamic Rep. of b

75

0.8

34

23

Norway

64

0.7

15

24

Bolivarian Rep. of Venezuela b

63

0.7

14

24

Philippines b, c

52

0.6

10

25

Chile

59

0.7

45

25

Romania

51

0.5

26

26

South Africa

58

0.6

13

26

Iran , Islamic Rep. of b

51

0.5

34

27

Kuwait b

54

0.6

21

27

Israel b

50

0.5

6

28

Algeria

53

0.6

15

28

Ukraine

45

0.5

25

29

Nigeria b

52

0.6

23

29

Viet Nam

44

0.5

20

30

Philippines

47

0.5

14

30

Chile

38

0.4

18

 

Total of above d

8160

90.5

-

 

Total of above d

8513

91.2

-

 

World (excl. intra-EU (25)) d

9015

100.0

16

 

World (excl. intra-EU (25)) d

9333

100.0

15

a Retained imports are defined as imports less re-exports
b Secretariat estimates.
c Imports are valued f.o.b.
d Includes significant re-exports or imports for re-export.
Source: WTO.

Appendix Table 5
Leading exporters and importers in world commercial services trade, 2006    back to top
(Billion dollars and percentage)

 

 

 

 

Annual

 

 

 

 

Annual

Rank

Exporters

Value

Share

%

Rank

Importers

Value

Share

%

 

 

 

 

change

 

 

 

 

change

1

United States

387

14.3

9

1

United States

307

11.7

9

2

United Kingdom

223

8.2

9

2

Germany

215

8.2

7

3

Germany

164

6.1

11

3

United Kingdom

169

6.5

6

4

Japan

121

4.5

12

4

Japan

143

5.5

8

5

France

112

4.1

-2

5

France

108

4.1

3

6

Italy

101

3.7

13

6

Italy

101

3.9

14

7

Spain

100

3.7

8

7

China

100

3.8

...

8

China

87

3.2

...

8

Netherlands

78

3.0

7

9

Netherlands

82

3.0

4

9

Ireland

77

3.0

11

10

India

73

2.7

34

10

Spain

77

2.9

18

11

Hong Kong, China

71

2.6

15

11

Canada

72

2.7

12

12

Ireland

67

2.5

17

12

India

70

2.7

40

13

Singapore

57

2.1

12

13

Korea, Republic of

69

2.7

20

14

Belgium

57

2.1

7

14

Singapore

61

2.3

12

15

Canada

56

2.1

7

15

Belgium

54

2.0

6

16

Korea, Republic of

51

1.9

16

16

Russian Federation

45

1.7

17

17

Denmark

50

1.9

19

17

Denmark

44

1.7

17

18

Luxembourg

50

1.9

25

18

Austria

40

1.5

...

19

Austria

50

1.8

...

19

Sweden

39

1.5

12

20

Sweden

50

1.8

17

20

Hong Kong, China

35

1.3

7

21

Switzerland

50

1.8

8

21

Taipei, Chinese

33

1.2

3

22

Greece

36

1.3

5

22

Thailand

32

1.2

18

23

Australia

32

1.2

6

23

Australia

32

1.2

6

24

Norway

32

1.2

10

24

Norway

31

1.2

7

25

Russian Federation

30

1.1

22

25

Luxembourg

31

1.2

23

26

Taipei , Chinese

29

1.1

13

26

Switzerland

27

1.0

5

27

Thailand

24

0.9

18

27

Brazil

27

1.0

20

28

Turkey

24

0.9

-8

28

Indonesia

27

1.0

...

29

Poland

21

0.8

28

29

Malaysia

23

0.9

6

30

Malaysia

21

0.8

5

30

Mexico

23

0.9

8

 

Total of above

2305

85.1

-

 

Total of above

2185

83.5

-

 

World

2710

100.0

11

 

World

2620

100.0

10

Note: While provisional full year data were available in early March for 33 countries accounting for more than 60% of world commercial services trade, estimates for most other countries are based on data for the first three quarters (the first six months in the case of China).
Source: WTO

  

Footnotes

1. UNCTAD, UNCTAD Investment Brief, No.1, 2007.  back to text
2. Institute for International Finance, Capital Flows to Emerging Market Economies, January 18, 2007. back to text
3. IMF, World Economic Outlook, April 2007, Table 40.  back to text
4. The ratio of the US current account deficit to US GDP is estimated to have remained unchanged in 2006 and the deficit started to decline in current dollar terms in the fourth quarter of 2006 .  back to text
5. JPMorgan, Real broad effective exchange rate indices. Direct communication to the WTO Secretariat.  back to text
6. IMF, World Economic Outlook, April 2007.  back to text
7. OECD, OECD Economic Outlook December 2006, UN, World Economic Situation and Prospects 2007, January 2007 and IMF, World Economic Outlook, April 2007.  back to text
8. There are indications that some imports are not fully covered in the regular trade returns which could lead not only to an underreporting of the level of imports but also to an underestimation of their import growth.  back to text
9. Merchandise trade values for 2006 were estimated on the basis of monthly customs data while commercial services data are derived from Balance of Payments statistics. The latter are typically available later than merchandise trade data, contributing to a greater uncertainty in the estimates for services than for merchandise trade in 2006.  back to text
10. Dollar export prices of manufactured goods increased in the United States and Germany by 2.5% and 1.7% respectively while those of Japan decreased by 2.5% in 2006. China’s export unit value index for manufactured goods rose by 3.6% in 2006.  back to text
11. Although India is a net-fuel importer it exports large volumes of oil production processed from imported crude oil.  back to text
12. Commercial services data are derived from Balance of Payments statistics which do not include the sales of majority-owned foreign affiliates abroad (commercial presence).  back to text
13. The decline in services exports of France and Finland are concentrated in the group “other commercial services”. Economic explanations for this decrease have yet to be identified. In the case of Luxembourg the marked rise in services exports can be attributed to the strength in financial services.  back to text
14. Comprising computer services, IT enabled services and business process outsourcing.  back to text
15. At the time of writing (early March 2007) published information on China's services trade is limited to the first half of 2006.  back to text
16. India's services imports are adjusted to include all freight transportation services to conform to the standard definitions of the IMF, Balance of Payments Manual (5th edition).  back to text