World merchandise exports show tepid growth for 2012, UN reports

Workers offloading merchandise at the Mogadishu seaport. UN Photo/Tobin Jones

17 April 2013 – Global merchandise exports grew by only 0.2 percent in value in 2012 after two years of significant expansion, with a decline among developed countries offset by 3.6 percent growth among developing countries fuelled by petroleum and gas, according to United Nations figures released today.

Developed nations registered a 2.75 per cent drop in merchandise exports, with the total global value 2012 reaching $18.325 trillion, as compared to $18.292 trillion in 2011, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which promotes the integration of developing countries into the world economy

But even in the developing world, primary exporters of commodities other than fuels saw exports drop by 2.54 per cent, with the 3.6 per cent growth confined mostly to major petroleum- and gas-exporting nations, which recorded a 5.1 per cent increase, according to UNCTAD.

Shortly before and after the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, the growth of merchandise trade exports worldwide was significant, with the highest rate occurring in 2010 - 21.9 per cent. Such exports also climbed by 19.63 per cent in 2011. The year of greatest impact from the crisis – 2009 – saw a 22.27 per cent decline in merchandise exports.

Downward trends for primary commodity prices in 2012, excluding fuel, seriously impacted the export performance of major commodity exporters.

Developing economies continued a trend in which their share of world trade has improved year by year. At the end of 2012, these economies accounted for 44.4 per cent of the global export market. By contrast, in 2005 their share stood at 36.2 per cent.

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