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Trade between developing countries – so-called ‘South-South’ trade in merchandise exports has now reached a record $4.7 trillion (in current prices) in 2012. This is a highlight of the fact that total world merchandise exports have more than tripled over the last 20 years to reach $18 trillion. These figures have recently been published by UNCTAD in its Handbook of Statistics 2013.


Record trade between developing countries

Record trade between developing countries

Total developing economies’ exports now account for 45 per cent of the world total, with half of the increase in global exports between 1995 and 2012 accounted for by developing countries.

The share of South-South trade in total world exports has doubled over the last 20 years, to over 25 per cent. Fuels and manufactured goods now account for roughly 25 per cent and 58 per cent of South-South trade, respectively.


What is particularly surprising, but good news for world development, is that the growth of  South-South commerce was higher in developing Africa between 1995 and 2012 than in the developing regions of Asia and America. In addtion, South-South trade from least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa climbed significantly in value over the figure for 1995. African LDCs have increasingly benefited from commercial exchanges with developing Asia.


It’s is perhaps not too much of a shock to see that China’s exports to other developing countries has now reached $1 trillion, and represents more than 20% of all trade between developing countries.


Apart from China and major petroleum and gas exporters, Viet Nam, Egypt, India, Turkey, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile are among the economies that have expanded the most in the South-South trade during last two decades.

Developing economies have also been gaining market share in international trade in services. In fact the share of exports from developing countries grew from 22 per cent of the world total in 1995 to 30 per cent in 2012. Services-sector exports from these countries increased by almost 8 per cent in 2012, while they expanded by 6 per cent in the transition economies. At the same time, practically no growth was observed in services exports from developed countries last year.  In construction and travel exports, developing economies now hold over 40 per cent of the global market. Their importance is also growing in transport and in computer services trade. However, developing and transition countries do not account for much of global trade in financial services or in trade related to intellectual property (royalties and license fees).



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Posted in Development, International Trade

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