WTO: 2010 NEWS ITEMS

SHORT-TERM MERCHANDISE TRADE STATISTICS

  
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From January to September trade expanded by 23%, continuing the recovery that began in the second quarter of 2009. Despite this positive trend, the value of world trade remains below its peak level from before the present financial crisis.
 
These short-term “value” figures should not be confused with the annual trade growth figures, which are “volume” data using “constant dollars” with inflation taken into account.
 
The latest projection of 13.5% merchandise trade volume growth for 2010, released on 20 September, remains unchanged for the time being.
 
WTO short-term merchandise trade values are expressed in “current” US dollars, ie, they are not adjusted for changes in prices. Nor are they seasonally adjusted. Seasonal patterns therefore considerably affect the quarter on quarter (Q-o-Q) and month on month (M-o-M) developments in world trade, and this in turn affects comparisons between the trade developments in individual regions and economies.

Chart 1: World merchandise exports, first quarter 2007 to third quarter 2010
Indices, first quarter 2005=100

In the third quarter of 2010, world merchandise exports were about 3% higher than in the second quarter (“quarter on quarter”).

Within that period, available monthly statistics for about 70 economies representing some 90% of world trade show that merchandise trade stagnated in July, decreased in August and bounced back in September 2010.

This pattern is similar, albeit less pronounced, to what had already been observed in 2009 and reflects in good part seasonal variations of demand.

Chart 2: Monthly merchandise trade, aggregate of 70 economies
Indices, January 2008=100

Overview of regional trade flows

Extra-EU trade (external trade between the EU and the rest of the world) rose considerably faster than trade within the EU, which remained constrained by low economic activity. Asian exports rose by about 30% in the third quarter of 2010, as compared to the corresponding period of 2009.

Exports from Africa and the Middle East were 22% higher than in the corresponding period of 2009 mainly due to the rebound of commodity prices after the crisis.

Table 1: World merchandise trade by region and selected economies, July-Sept 2010
Percentage change in current US dollars, year-on-year (Y-o-Y) and quarter-on-quarter (Q-o-Q)

Exports

 

Imports

Y-o-Y

Q-o-Q

 

Y-o-Y

Q-o-Q

18

3

World (a)

18

4

21

0

North America

23

4

20

1

United States

23

5

16

-5

   Canada

20

1

22

4

South and Central America

34

12

33

12

   Brazil

49

18

7

2

Europe

9

2

8

2

   European Union (27) (b)

9

2

4

0

   —intra EU

4

0

14

6

   —extra EU

17

6

18

-1

Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

29

13

18

0

   Russian Federation

39

17

22

3

Africa and the Middle East

10

5

29

6

Asia (a)

26

5

32

11

   China

27

5

20

2

   India

31

4

28

7

   Japan

25

7

25

2

   Six East Asian traders (c)

26

2

a. Includes significant re-exports or imports for re-exports.
b. “Intra EU” is trade within the EU; “extra EU” is trade between the EU and non-EU economies.
c. Hong Kong, China (excluding re-export trade); Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Singapore; Taipei, Chinese and Thailand.

Chart 3: Commodity price developments, third quarter 2010
Percentage change

Source: IMF

Jargon buster

Month on month (M-o-M): comparing two consecutive months (not the same months in consecutive years). Similarly for quarter-on-quarter (Q-on-Q).

Year on year (Y-on-Y): comparing equivalent periods such as quarters, months, sequences of months, etc, in consecutive years, eg, comparing January-September 2010 with January-September 2009.

> More jargon: glossary

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