Prices

Map 1. Annual growth of consumer prices, 2020
(Percentage)

Growth of consumer prices worldwide

Inflation rates varied widely across the world’s economies in 2020. Consumer prices increased relatively quickly in several economies across developing regions. They grew by around 2 400 per cent in Venezuela and 560 per cent in Zimbabwe. Inflation rates above 80 per cent were also recorded in the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon. In most economies, growth of consumer prices was between 0 and 5 per cent, but one in six economies – most of them relatively small in area – experienced price decreases in 2020.

Trends in exchange rates

Exchange rates of the most traded currencies remained relatively stable over the last four years. From 2019 to 2020, the yen and the euro appreciated by around 2 per cent against the United States dollar, the yuan and the pound sterling. Over the last decade, the dollar has appreciated against all four other currencies mentioned.

Figure 1. Exchange rates against the United States dollar
(Annual average)

Commodity price index fell, led by fuel prices

Figure 2. UNCTAD Commodity Price Index
(2015=100)

On an annual basis, the UCPI was 16 per cent lower in 2020 compared to 2019. Excluding fuels, however, the index was up by 11 per cent. Fuels make up a large part of the index and their prices declined by 32 per cent from 2019. Prices also decreased for agricultural raw materials, but with a comparatively modest 2 per cent. The impact on the overall index was offset by a 6 per cent increase in food prices and a 16 per cent increase in the prices of minerals, ores and metals.

Commodity prices surged starting May 2020

The year 2020 saw both a sharp drop and a subsequent strong recovery of commodity prices. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, prices began tumbling, and the UCPI reached a five-year low in April 2020. Fuel prices were at less than half of their level in the same month of the previous year. Agricultural raw material prices decreased by 11 per cent from April 2019 to April 2020, while food prices and prices for minerals, ores and metals recorded growth.

In April 2021, commodity prices surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Much as they drove the UCPI’s initial downturn in 2020, significant changes in fuel prices drove its recovery as well. By April 2021, fuel prices had risen by 143 per cent year-on-year. As the prices for other commodities increased more modestly, albeit consistently, prices for all major groups were higher than twelve months earlier.

Figure 3. Year-on-year growth of prices by commodity group
(Percentage)

Note: Percentage change of UCPI sub-indices, compared to the same month in the previous year.

Concepts and definitions

Changes in consumer prices are measured by the consumer price index (CPI), which depicts the price of a basket of consumer goods and services representing average consumption by private households during a year, relative to the base year 2010.

The UNCTAD Commodity Price Index (UCPI) measures the average price, in United States dollars, of main primary commodities exported by developing economies relative to the base year 2015. The weights used in the calculation of the average price represent the shares of commodity groups in developing economies’ total commodity exports observed over three years from 2014 to 2016. The overall index is decomposed into sub-indices displaying the price movements of individual commodity groups. The basket of the UCPI was entirely overhauled in 2018. For details, see annex 6.3 and -—
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Summary tables

Table 1. Consumer prices by group of economies
Note: Venezuela is not considered.

    Table 2. Exchange rate and consumer prices among main exporting economies
    (Percentage)
      Table 3. Price indices of selected primary commodities
      (2015=100)
        Table 4. Monthly price indices of main commodity groups
        (2015=100)

          References

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