Trade indicators

Map 1. Trade openness index, 2020
(Percentage)

Note: This index measures the relative importance of international trade in goods relative to the domestic economic output of an economy. Exports are given equal weight to imports.

How important is trade for economies?

In 2020, the economies most open to international trade, as measured by the ratio of the mean of exports and imports of goods to gross domestic product (GDP), were relatively small economies in South-Eastern Asia and Eastern Europe, including China, Hong Kong SAR (151 per cent), Singapore (104 per cent), and Slovakia (76 per cent). By contrast, China, the United States of America and Japan recorded ratios of 15 per cent or below. The lowest value, 3 per cent, was reported for Zimbabwe. Cuba and Iran ranked as the second and third least open economies, respectively.

How did the relative price of exports to imports develop?

In 2020, almost all geographical regions, except Asia and Oceania, saw their terms of trade fall. The largest decline of 6.6 per cent was recorded in the African region, followed by North America (-1.4 per cent) and Latin America and Caribbean (-1.2 per cent). The terms of trade of European countries stood at 99.4 points.
Figure 1. Terms of trade index
(2015=100)

Note: This index indicates by how much the relative price between exports and imports has changed in relation to the base year.

How concentrated is global product supply?

Figure 2. Market concentration index of exports

Note: This index measures the extent to which a high proportion of exports are delivered by a small number of economies. It has a value of 1 if all exports originate from a single economy.

Large differences persisted in the degree to which global supply was concentrated among exporting economies. In 2020, the most unequally distributed group, by far, was manufactured products, as indicated by a market concentration index of 0.20, as compared to index values between 0.12 and 0.15 recorded for the other product groups. The concentration index of food has followed a declining trend since 2013, but changed direction in 2020, with a 1.9 per cent increase as compared to 2019. For fuels, a considerable increase in the concentration of world market supply was observed over the last two years.

How did the volume of trade change?

The volume of world merchandise exports and imports shrank by approximately 5.5 per cent in 2020, corresponding to the developments of the value of merchandise trade (see Total merchandise trade). The decline in export volume was significantly stronger in developed (-8.0 per cent) than developing economies (-2.5 per cent), leading in developed economies to a volume 1.4 per cent lower than in 2015. During the same period, imports in volume terms were down by 6.5 per cent in developed regions and 4.2 per cent in developing regions.
Figure 3. Volume index of exports and imports
(2015=100)

Note: This index indicates the change in exports or imports, adjusted for the movement of prices, relative to the base year.

Concepts and definitions

This section presents different indices that can be used to analyze trade flows and trade patterns over time from the perspective of, for example, relative competitiveness, structure of global exports and imports markets, or the importance of trade for the economy, both for individual economies and for groups of economies.

For information on how the indices in this section are calculated, see on the Calculation methods page. The presented indices are a subset of the trade indices available at UNCTADstat -—
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Summary tables

Table 1. Selected trade indices by group of economies
(2015=100)
Developed economies
    Developing economies
      Developing economies: Africa
        Developing economies: America
          Developing economies: Asia and Oceania
            Table 2. Selected trade indices, landlocked developing countries
            (2015=100)

              References

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