- 12 Apr 07, 10:24 AM
While members of the World Trade Organisation spend much of their time arguing about potential reforms to the rules of global trade, (or trying to limit the impact of the rules they've already agreed), the secretariat of the organisation in Geneva gets on with the job of overseeing the trade that is already going on.
And the WTO publishes its annual overview of world trade this morning. (You should be able to find it on their website).
For trade boffins, there are a number of interesting things in it. I can't think of just one to highlight, so here are some bullet points to bring you up to date on the state of trade...
1. Trade continues to grow fast, notwithstanding the failures of trade negotiators to agree on new trade rules. World merchandise trade (i.e. trade in manufactured goods or commodities) grew by 15 per cent in 2006. Trade in commercial services grew by 11 per cent. (These figures take no account of inflation).
2. The WTO expects trade to have a rougher time in 2007 as the world economy is expected to grow less quickly than last year.
3. Trade involving the least-developed countries was strong in 2006, with the value of their exports up 30 per cent. This was driven by higher prices for oil and other commodities. But in addition, there was no evidence that China's surging exports of textiles have come at the expense of the poorest countries. For example, exports of textiles and clothing from least-developed countries to the EU grew by 30 per cent.
4. The world's biggest exporter is the US, followed by Germany and then China. Japan is fourth and Britain is fifth.
5. In terms of exports of goods alone (which account for four-fifths of global trade), Germany is the world leader, with the US second and China third.
6. China's exports of goods grew by 27 per cent last year. Indeed, in the second half of 2006 they overtook those of the US showing that as of now, China is probably the world's second largest goods exporter.
7. India's trade performance does not make it one of the big players. It is the world's tenth biggest exporter of services, but only ranks as the world's 28th biggest exporter of goods, with a one per cent share of global exports.
8. A third of Britain's exports are services, the highest proportion of the world's top 10 exporting nations.
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