Introduction

The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2021 provides a wide range of statistics and indicators relevant to the analysis of international trade, investment, maritime transport and development. Reliable statistical information is indispensable for formulating sound policies and recommendations that may commit countries for many years as they strive to integrate into the world economy and improve the living standards of their citizens.

The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics and the UNCTADstat Data Center make internationally comparable sets of data available to policymakers, research specialists, academics, officials from national governments, representatives of international organizations, journalists, executive managers and members of non-governmental organizations. In addition, these statistics underpin all UNCTAD activities. Whether for research, policy advice or technical cooperation, UNCTAD needs reliable and internationally comparable trade, financial and macroeconomic data, covering several decades and for as many countries as possible.

With the release of 2020 data, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are evident in a myriad of indicators in this 2021 edition. The handbook accordingly provides a wide overview of the consequences of the pandemic across a variety of sectors. As in previous editions, several nowcasts for the current year are included. Given the increased importance of timely data, the handbook has been supplemented by quarterly trade nowcasts, see also: https://unctad.org/MerchandiseTradeNowcast.

The present e-handbook is a fully interactive tool, including maps and charts, that allows readers to directly access the data from the UNCTADstat Data Center associated with each table or chart. The print version can be ordered at https://shop.un.org/ (ISBN 978-92-1-112997-7).