In the wake of the record expansion in the volume of world trade in 2010 (13.8 percent), expectations were more modest for 2011. Nevertheless, in the turbulent economic climate of last year, growth in the volume of world trade still surprised on the downside, decelerating sharply to 5.0 percent in 2011 as the global economic recovery ran out of steam due to multiple critical events, including the disasters in Japan and the European sovereign debt crisis. However, as a result of higher prices, in particular resource prices, nominal trade values still increased 20 percent in 2011, compared to 22 percent in 2010.
Real export growth in developed economies was stronger than expected, reaching 4.7 percent in 2011. Considering several crises that took place in the developed world last year, these economies have done relatively well to reach that level. The rest of the world—including the developing economies and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)—recorded an increase of 5.4 percent in 2011, somewhat below expectations.
Growth in real exports from the United States, at 7.2 percent, was the strongest driver in the performance of the developed nations, helping counteract the 0.5-percent decrease in real exports from Japan. The European Union’s 5.2-percent growth in export volumes was at par for the developed world. These areas have all been affected by adverse events: fiscal uncertainty in the United States; the ongoing debt crisis in Europe; and the earthquake in Japan followed by the tsunami and the nuclear disasters.
Clearly, these events had wide-ranging repercussions and affected demand for the exports from developing countries as well. But these experienced adverse developments of their own. Unrest in many Arabic countries and the war in Libya affected oil shipments and were largely behind Africa’s 8.3-percent contraction in exports in 2011. Flooding in Thailand affected output and exports from that country, and the natural disasters in Japan caused some disruptions in supply chains across Southeast Asia.
Growing Asian economies once again led the world in export expansion. India was the fastest-growing exporter nation among major traders, adding 16.1 percent to its exports in real terms. China was in second place, adding 9.3 percent. Asia’s newly industrialized economies (NIEs)—which include Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea—expanded their exports by 6.0 percent. Growth in export volumes from the CIS was only 1.8 percent, but averaged 5.4 percent and 5.3 percent in the Middle East and in South and Central America, respectively. However, as exports from these regions were to a significant degree composed of resources, their dollar value increased substantially (34 percent, 37 percent and 27 percent, respectively). Similarly, despite Africa’s real export contraction, the value of its exports expanded 17 percent.
After 22-percent growth in 2010, the overall value of global merchandise exports expanded by 20 percent in 2011 to reach a record US$17.8-trillion (Table 2-1).
Double-digit increases in nominal exports and imports were the norm across all regions and countries, with the single exception of exports from the disaster-struck Japan. A recovery in resource prices—with some prices regaining their pre-recession levels— was the major factor behind the nominal expansion of world trade, as volumes only expanded 5.0 percent. Several negative shocks to production affected trade, and slower overall GDP growth in the world in 2011 dampened trade expansion. These factors affected both real and nominal trade flows. Manufactured goods traditionally exhibit more stable prices, and as a result movements in their real and nominal flows were fairly similar in 2011. It is notable that trade in manufactured goods was more robust at the beginning of the year as the immediate post-crisis recovery and restocking of inventories continued, and slowed toward the end of 2011, even going over into negative territory for office and telecom equipment.
|Annual % Change|
|Annual % Change|
|Annual % Change|
|Annual % Change|
|Source: WTO and author’s calculations.|
|South & Central America||749||4.2%||26||27||727||4.0%||30||24|
Rising oil prices were responsible for the increase in nominal exports from the Middle East (up 37 percent) and the CIS (up 34 percent). Exports prices grew roughly 30 percent for both regions, making them the runaway leaders in export growth for 2011.
Exports from South and Central America also expanded substantially last year, up 27 percent. Brazil, responsible for about a third of them, increased its exports at the same rate. Predominantly resource-based, exports from this region also benefited from increasing commodity prices in 2011.
All of the other regions grew at a similar pace, between 16 and 18 percent. Asia, last year’s leader, decelerated to 18-percent growth—largely the result of natural disasters in Japan that depressed export growth in that country from 33 percent in 2010 to 7 percent in 2011 and indirectly affected many other countries in the region through their supply chain linkages. The general cooling off in the Chinese economy resulted in only 20-percent growth in 2011, which was the average rate for the world. The four Asian NIEs grew their exports by a combined 16 percent. India’s performance was exceptional, as it managed to increase its export growth from 33 percent in 2010 to 35 percent in 2011, the highest rate of growth among major traders.
African exports, buoyant in 2010 at 29 percent, grew only 17 percent in 2011. Civil war in Libya resulted in dramatic cuts in exports of Libyan oil. Metals and ores exported by Africa fuel the fast growth of Asian economies, such as India and China, and are back in demand as the world recovery progresses. These commodities grew significantly in price last year, and given their dominance among the continent’s exports, led to export growth in nominal terms (while real exports from Africa fell).
European exports expanded 17 percent in 2011 and the increase was distributed fairly evenly, with exports from the EU-27, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom each growing by 17 percent. France was slightly behind at 14 percent, while Greece’s exports expanded 42 percent. Overall export growth in Europe was affected by the slowing economic growth and the clouds of further austerity on the horizon, leading to another recession at the end of 2011.
North America’s exports grew the slowest among all regions in 2011, at 16 percent, with very similar performance across the three nations. Canada and Mexico both grew slightly faster at 17 percent, while exports from the United States grew 16 percent. Taking into account the weakening of the U.S. dollar last year, which depreciated by 4.2 percent against the Canadian dollar and by 1.6 percent against the Mexican peso, some of the growth for Canada and Mexico can be attributed to the increased valuations of their exports in U.S. dollar terms.
By and large, global imports behaved similarly to global exports last year. Following 21-percent growth in 2010, the nominal value of imports increased 19 percent to $18.0 trillion in 2011. Double-digit increases took place across all regions and major traders.
A major expansion in imports (approaching 30 percent) took place in the CIS, enabled by the large increase in revenue from oil exports from the region. Import growth in South and Central America decelerated from 30 percent in 2010 to 24 percent last year. Brazil’s import growth matched the 24-percent average for the continent.
The value of imports into Asia expanded by 23 percent, with India in the lead with 29-percent import growth. China was somewhat behind with 25-percent growth, a decrease from 39-percent growth in 2010. Despite its challenges, Japan was at par for the region, expanding imports by 23 percent. Import growth among the four Asian NIEs was only 18 percent in 2011, down from 32 percent in 2010.
Imports into Africa grew 18 percent in 2011, exceeding the previous year’s growth of 15 percent. A similar story developed in the Middle East, whose 16-percent import growth in 2011 was slightly above its 2010 growth of 13 percent.
Europe’s import growth picked up somewhat in 2011, reaching 17 percent (up from 13 percent the year before). Considering the increases in resource prices—a fundamental component of European imports—overall growth was very weak. The ongoing sovereign debt crisis continued to impact import spending as governments in Europe made efforts to balance the current account, while the austerity-induced growth slowdown—bordering on recession for several countries—further depressed Europe’s demand for imports. Among major traders, Germany’s imports grew the most at 19 percent; France’s were at par with the European average at 17 percent; while import growth in Italy and the United Kingdom was subpar at 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
North America experienced the slowest import growth of all regions in 2011, at 15 percent, with import growth in Canada and the United States at par for the region and Mexico’s growth slightly above par at 16 percent. Continuing weakness in the U.S. economy likely depressed U.S. imports, while slower Canadian import growth was partly based on smaller resource content.
In real terms, after adjusting for price changes and currency fluctuations, merchandise exports grew by a modest 5.0 percent in 2011. This was a considerable slowdown from the 13.8-percent growth in 2010, and although the direction was not unexpected, the magnitude of the decline was surprising. A number of negative shocks were responsible, chiefly the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in Europe, as well as the series of disasters in Japan, the gridlock in the U.S. Congress, the Libyan civil war, unrest in many Arab countries and floods in Thailand. Even when not affecting trade directly, these events contributed to the continuing uncertainty, fragile confidence and cautious behaviour of investors, businesses and consumers alike. A further slowdown in trade growth is expected for 2012.
A convenient benchmark for assessing trade growth is the comparison with the GDP. Historically, real exports grow approximately twice as fast as real GDP—rising even faster during recoveries, and falling faster during recessions. As world output grew 2.4 percent in 2011, the ratio of trade to output growth was about two to one. Thus, trade growth in 2011 was in line with output growth during normal times, although lower than could be expected during an economic recovery.
Developed economies performed relatively well, posting 4.7-percent real growth in merchandise exports, not far behind that of the developing economies and the CIS, whose exports grew by 5.4 percent. By contrast, imports into developed countries grew only 2.8 percent, while developing economies and the CIS expanded import volumes by 7.9 percent.
In contrast to its lagging trade growth in nominal terms, North America was one of the leading regions with respect to real export growth, which was up 6.2 percent in 2011. This was driven by the strong performance of the United States (up 7.2 percent), with the weaker U.S. dollar making U.S. exports more attractive. Only the volume of Asia’s exports (up 6.6 percent) grew faster, with India posting a tremendous 16.1-percent growth and China and South Korea doing well at 9.3 percent each. Asian export performance was impacted by Japan, whose exports decreased by 0.5 percent in 2011.
The Middle East (up 5.4 percent) and South and Central America (up 5.3 percent) were the other regions where exports grew faster than the world average. Growth in European exports matched the world average (up 5.0 percent), while exports from the EU-27 grew slightly faster at 5.2 percent.
In an unusual development, Africa’s exports contracted by 8.3 percent, largely occasioned by the civil war in Libya and the almost 75-percent reduction in Libyan oil exports that resulted. Exports from the CIS stagnated in volume terms, rising just 1.8 percent on the year.
On the import side, statistical discrepancies caused the world’s real import growth of 4.9 percent to appear marginally lower than the world’s real export growth of 5.0 percent. The CIS was the runaway leader with 16.7-percent import growth, the volume increases enabled by improved terms of trade for energy and resource exports from the region. South and Central America expanded imports by 10.4 percent, and Asia posted an above-average growth of 6.4 percent. China’s imports led the way in Asia with 9.7-percent growth in real terms, India recorded 6.6-percent growth and Japanese import volumes grew 1.9 percent even as that country recovered from natural disasters.
Imports into the Middle East and Africa grew apace with the world average, at 5.3 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively. North American imports grew slightly below the world average at 4.7 percent, with imports into the United States rising more slowly at 3.7 percent. Canada’s imports rose faster at 8.1 percent, reflecting a resilient domestic demand and improving terms of trade. Europe experienced stagnation in real imports, gaining just 2.4 percent on the year, with the EU-27 even slower with 2.0-percent growth.
Commodity prices rose substantially in 2010 after crashing during the global recession. That across-the-board price increase was buoyed by strong demand from growing emerging markets and global economic recovery taking root. Although most commodity prices continued to rise in 2011, price differences among the individual commodities were more apparent than in 2010 (Figure 2-1).
The largest commodity price increases were observed in precious metals: silver prices jumped 74.6 percent and gold prices rose 28.1 percent during the year. Higher prices for precious metals drove much of the trade movements in 2011, both on the import and export sides, as described in chapters 4 and 5 of this report. Prices in the agricultural sector expanded across the board, with wheat leading at 47.9 percent and canola at 30.4 percent, buoying the value of Canadian exports in these commodities.
|Natural Gas||- 8%|
Metals and ores continued to increase in price, but not as quickly as in 2010 when the increases ranged from 30 to 50 percent. The price of uranium grew the most in 2011, up 22.8 percent; copper prices rose 17.0 percent; and aluminum prices increased by 10.4 percent. By contrast, the price of nickel increased a scant 5.0 percent.
While oil prices rose 19.7 percent during 2011, natural gas prices fell 9.0 percent. Coal prices grew robustly at 22.6 percent, increasing the value of Canada’s exports, mostly to Asian destinations. Prices in the forestry sector stagnated, with the price of pulp gaining 2.6 percent and the price of lumber losing 3.3 percent.1
According to the Bank of Canada’s sectoral price indices based on Canadian production and world market sales, the price of Canadian energy products rose 10.6 percent during 2011. Metals and minerals gained 14.7 percent, forestry prices moved little, and agricultural prices rose 34.8 percent.2 Weighting commodity prices according to Canadian production, the index moved up 12.9 percent last year, or by 16.7 percent if energy is excluded. This situation, i.e. where energy prices drag down the overall commodity price growth, is unusual, and may be largely explained by lower relative prices for Canadian-produced oil last year (see Chapter 3 box on WTI and Brent pricing).
Weekly West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices opened the year at US$89.54 a barrel. Steady growth during the first four months of the year took prices 25 percent higher, to US$112.30 at the end of April. However, prices slowly weakened thereafter to just under US$100 by the end of July, when the price of oil dropped quickly to US$82.86 by mid-August to cruise in the US$80 range until early October. A sustained increase during the last three months of the year brought oil prices back to the US$100-mark, with the last reading of the year at US$99.81 on December 30, 2011. Overall, the WTI price rose 11 percent in 2011 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.3
Gold prices averaged US$1,571.97 per troy ounce in 2011, up 28 percent from US$1,224.52 in 2010. Prices fluctuated in a wide band from US$1,319.00 in January 2011 to US$1,895.00 in September. Gold was worth US$1,531.00 per troy ounce at the end of the year.4
Substantial fluctuations in exchange rates affected world trade values in 2011. Large movements in some key currencies, such as the Swiss franc and the Brazilian real, led to a shift in terms of trade for these traders and real effects on economic, trade and commercial policies. On the other hand, the depreciation of the U.S. dollar by almost 5 percent against a weighted basket of world currencies not only stimulated a large expansion in U.S. exports, but upwardly affected the nominal dollar values of international transactions. The U.S. dollar depreciated against the euro by 4.8 percent, against the Japanese yen by 10.1 percent, against the British pound by 3.7 percent, against the Chinese yuan by 4.7 percent and against the Canadian dollar by 4.2 percent.
According to the Bank of Canada’s average monthly exchange rate statistics, the Canadian dollar started the year at parity with the U.S. dollar (US$1.006 in January), grew evenly to reach a high of US$1.044 in April, retreated to US$1.024 in June and then climbed once again to US$1.047 by July. After the resolution of the U.S. debt ceiling crisis, the Canadian dollar gradually declined to US$0.981 by October and experienced no major movements until the end of the year, closing at the US$0.977 monthly average for December.5
For the third year running, China was the world’s top merchandise exporter, with $1,899 billion in exports. Its share of world exports remained at 10.4 percent, however, since its export growth was equal to the world average at 20 percent.
|Exporters||2011 Rank||2010 Rank||2011 US$B Value||2011 % Share|
|Source: WTO and author’s calculations|
|Importers||2011 Rank||2010 Rank||2011 US$B Value||2011 % Share|
|Source:WTO and author’s calculations|
The United States held on to second place in the rankings, narrowly edging Germany with total export value of $1,481 billion, as compared to the $1,474 billion value of German exports. The share of world exports for each declined to 8.1 percent in 2011.
Japan was a distant fourth, with $823 billion in exports amounting to less than half of China’s. Relatively slower growth in 2011 reduced the Japanese share of the world export market from 5.1 percent to 4.5 percent.
Exports from the Netherlands ($660 billion) and France ($597 billion) retained their fifth and sixth rankings, respectively, although their individual shares retreated on the year as well. The world share of exports from the Netherlands declined from 3.8 percent in 2010 to 3.6 percent in 2011, and France’s share slipped from 3.4 percent to 3.3 percent.
South Korea kept the seventh place that it won in 2010, with exports of $555 billion, although its share of world exports slipped from 3.1 percent in 2010 to 3.0 percent in 2011. Italy barely held on to eighth place, with $523 billion in exports, holding off surging Russia, whose exports vaulted from 12th place to 9th in 2011, reaching $522 billion. Each country held a 2.9-percent share of world exports.
Belgium retreated to 10th place with $476 billion in exports and a 2.6-percent world share. Canada remained in 13th place, although within easy reach of the tenth place with $452 billion in exports and a 2.5 percent share of world exports.
On the import side, the rankings remained similarly stable. The United States continued to top the world charts as the unchallenged leader, with $2,265 billion in imports, although the U.S. share of world imports contracted from 12.8 percent to 12.3 percent in 2011. China remained in second place, with $1,743 billion in imports (9.5 percent of the world share) and Germany ranked third with imports valued at $1,254 billion (6.8 percent).
Japan, once again in fourth place, imported $854-billion worth of merchandise, increasing its share of world imports to 4.6 percent. France kept fifth place with $715 billion, its 3.9-percent share unchanged. The United Kingdom was sixth with a 3.5-percent share and the Netherlands was seventh with 3.2 percent. Italy remained in eighth spot with a 3.0-percent share of world imports.
South Korea’s imports overtook Hong Kong’s to claim ninth place, reaching $524 billion (2.9 percent). Hong Kong rounded out the top 10 with $511 billion (2.8 percent), and was immediately followed by Canada with $462 billion in imports (2.5 percent of world imports).
World services exports expanded 11 percent in 2011 to reach $4,150 billion, after a similar expansion of 10 percent in 2010 (see Table 2-3).
According to the WTO, the share of services in total trade (goods and services) on the balance of payments basis declined to 18.6 percent in 2011, the smallest proportion since 1990. This is partly attributable to the recovery bringing about faster growth in the goods trade, as goods are more affected by the business cycle. Rising commodity prices significantly boosted the valuation of merchandise trade and were therefore also partly responsible for the decline in the share of services in total trade.
|Annual % Change|
|Annual % Change|
|Annual % Change|
|Annual % Change|
|Source: WTO secretariat and author’s calculations|
|South & Central America||130||3.1%||15||14||163||4.2%||23||18|
The CIS region was the fastest-growing exporter of commercial services last year, with a 20-percent expansion. Exports from the CIS countries grew to $96 billion, fuelled by broad-based growth of 22 percent in Russian services exports, which reached $54 billion. Strong growth (14 percent) also took place in South and Central America where services exports reached $130 billion. Brazil, which accounted for over a quarter of services exports in that region, grew 21 percent to reach $37 billion.
Asia’s services exports grew 12 percent in 2011 to reach $1,096 billion. India’s 20-percent growth again led the region, with transportation and travel services growing particularly well. The value of India’s services exports ($148 billion) exceeded that of Japan ($143 billion), which was up slightly by 3 percent in 2011. Japan’s transportation services, travel services in particular, suffered an outright decline. China’s services exports expanded by a subdued 7 percent to $182 billion, the largest by value in the region. The four Asian NIEs grew their exports 12 percent, to reach the combined value of $386 billion. The growth rates in services in all regions were much weaker than the rates in 2010, when the frayed links in the global trading network were still being restored.
Africa’s services exports showed zero growth in 2011, largely due to the civil unrest in Tunisia and in Egypt, which cut their exports by 20 percent and 19 percent, respectively. At $85 billion, Africa remained the least-exporting region analyzed while the Middle East increased its services exports by 10 percent to $111 billion.
Growth in Europe was equal to that in North America (10 percent). In Europe, the United Kingdom grew by 11 percent and passed Germany as the world’s second-largest exporter of services on the strength of the revisions to its dominant export, other business and financial services. Total exports reached $274 billion for the United Kingdom and $253 billion for Germany, which grew 9 percent. France increased its services exports by 11 percent to $161 billion and Italy by 9 percent to $107 billion.
The United States expanded its services exports by 11 percent, just ahead of Canada, where services exports grew 10 percent. No growth in services exports was reported for Mexico.
On the import side, the CIS was also the leader, increasing its services imports by 21 percent to $133 billion. A broad-based increase of 24 percent in Russian imports to $90 billion was behind that growth. Services imports for South and Central America expanded by 18 percent to reach $163 billion, driven by Brazil’s 22-percent growth to $73 billion.
Imports of services into Asia grew 14 percent overall, driven by China’s strong 23-percent growth. Total Asian imports reached $1,091 billion, with China accounting for imports worth $236 billion. India’s import growth was slower at 12 percent, while Japan’s was only 6 percent. The four Asian NIEs together added 9 percent to their services imports. The Middle East expanded imports by 10 percent to reach $210 billion, while Africa’s imports grew by 9 percent to $149 billion.
Europe and North America continued to be net exporters of services, with import shares of 41.5 percent and 13.4 percent, respectively, as opposed to export shares of 47.3 percent and 16.1 percent respectively. In Europe, services imports grew 8 percent in 2011, reaching $1,605 billion. Germany was Europe’s chief importer of services, up 8 percent to $284 billion. Imports into France and the United Kingdom grew by 7 percent each, while Italy lagged with 5-percent growth in imports.
The United States increased its services imports by only 6 percent to $391 billion, further improving its positive trade balance in the services trade. Canada’s services imports grew faster at 10 percent, and Mexico’s led the region at 16 percent.
Overall, transportation services was the slowest-growing services sub-category in 2011, up only 8 percent. Commercial services grew by 11 percent and travel services picked up by 12 percent. The slow growth of transportation services may be partially explained by sluggish growth in world goods trade volumes, and the glut of shipping capacity that depressed revenues in the shipping sector, as indicated by the falling Baltic Dry Index. Over the past six years, the growth in the three principal components of services was more balanced, with commercial services expanding the fastest at 10 percent and the rest growing at 7 percent.
|2011 Exports (US$B)||Share (%)||2011 growth (%)||2010 growth (%)||2005-2011 growth (%)|
|Source: WTO and author’s calculations.|
The United States was the leading services trader in the world, on both the export and import sides, in 2011. It exported $578- billion worth of services, or 13.9 percent of the world’s total, while importing only $391 billion, or 10.1 percent of the world’s total. With exports of services exceeding imports by $187 billion, the United States also posted the world’s biggest trade surplus in services.
The United Kingdom took over the second spot in export rankings from Germany, with $274 billion in exports and a 6.6-percent world share. Germany was in third spot, with $253 billion and a 6.1-percent share. China and France followed with $182 billion (4.4-percent share) and $161 billion (3.9-percent share), retaining fourth and fifth places, respectively.
India vaulted four places to rank sixth following a 20-percent expansion in its services exports, reaching $148 billion and achieving a 3.6-percent world share. Japan with $143 billion and Spain with $141 billion slid down a rank each to seventh and eighth spots, respectively. The Netherlands passed Singapore to remain in ninth spot, with $128 billion in services exports. Singapore fell two positions, dropping from eighth to tenth place, to $125 billion and a 3.0-percent share of world services exports. Canada was in 18th place, with $74 billion in services exports and a 1.8-percent world share.
On the import side, no movements occurred in the top 10 rankings. Germany held second place with services imports of $284 billon, or 7.3 percent of the world’s total. China held third spot, with $236 billion in imports. The United Kingdom ($171 billion), Japan ($165 billion) and France ($141 billion) occupied spots four to six, and India was close behind with $130 billion in import values. The Netherlands, Italy and Ireland rounded out the top 10 with $118 billion, $115 billion and $113 billion in services imports, respectively. Canada went up a position from 13th to 12th spot in 2011 as its services imports expanded to $99 billion, or 2.6 percent of the world’s total.
|Exporter||2011 Rank||2010 Rank||2011 US$B Value||2011 % Share|
|Importer||2011 Rank||2010 Rank||2011 US$B Value||2011 % Share|
|Source: WTO Secretariat|
1 Commodity Price Report, TD Economics, February 29, 2012.
2 Bank of Canada Commodity Price Index, http://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/price-indexes/bcpi/
3 Price behaviour of WTI oil is based on trade in the spot market at Cushing, Oklahoma, as quoted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) at http://tonto.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=RWTC&f=W.
4 Prices per troy ounce, London Afternoon (PM) Gold Price Fixings as quoted in http://www.usagold.com/reference/ prices/2011.html.
5 Bank of Canada exchange rate statistics at http://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/exchange/monthly-average-lookup/.
6 All values quoted in this sub-section are in U.S. dollars.
7 All values quoted in this section are in U.S. dollars.
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