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Canada's State of Trade: Trade and Investment Update 2011

II. Overview of World Trade Developments

After the sharpest contraction on record in 2009, the volume of world trade rebounded in 2010 to return to its 2008 peak level—the greatest expansion ever registered.

Global export volumes increased by 14.5 percent last year. Developed economies recorded export growth of 12.9 percent in volume terms over the course of the year while shipments from the rest of the world (including developing economies and the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS]) rose by 16.7 percent.

Asia exhibited the fastest real export growth of all regions in 2010, with a jump of 23.1 percent, led by China and Japan, whose shipments to the rest of the world rose by 28.4 percent and 27.5 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the United States and the European Union saw their exports growingmore slowly at 15.4 percent and 11.4 percent, respectively. Imports were up 22.1 percent in real terms in China, 14.8 percent in the United States, 10.0 percent in Japan, and 9.2 percent in the European Union.

Regions that export significant quantities of natural resources (Africa, the CIS, the Middle East and South America) all experienced relatively low export volume growth in 2010, but stronger increases in the dollar value of their exports. For example, Africa’s exports were up 6 percent in volume terms, and 28 percent in dollar terms.

In nominal terms, merchandise exports were US$15.2 trillion in 2010, but remained 5.4 percent below their 2008 peak level of US$16.1 trillion, largely due to the impact of relatively lower commodity prices in 2010 than in 2008.

Merchandise Trade

Trade values (nominal trade)

After falling by 23 percent in 2009, world merchandise exports were up 22 percent last year, rising fromUS$12.5 trillion to US$15.2 trillion (Table 2-1).

The factors that contributed to the large drop in world trade in 2009 may have also helped in the rebound of 2010, according to the WTO.1 These include the spread of global supply chains and the product composition of trade compared to output. The use of global supply chains in goods production causes goods to cross national boundaries several times during the production process; this in turn raises measured world trade flows compared to more traditional trade flows where final goods constitute the bulk of trade. Additionally, the goods that were most affected by the downturn were consumer durables, industrial machinery, etc., which were affected by tight credit and sharp declines in business investment. Since these goods represent a larger share of world trade than of world GDP, the reduction in trade of these goods increased the magnitude of the trade slump relative to GDP in 2009, while the increase in trade of these goods during the recovery of 2010 produced an opposite (positive) effect.

Table 2-1a
World Merchandise Trade Exports by Region and Selected Countries (US$)
 2010 Value2010 Share2009 Change2010 Change
North America$1,964,000,000,00013.2%-21%23%
Central & South America$575,000,000,0003.9%-24%25%
EU (27)$5,147,000,000,00034.6%-22%12%
Middle East$916,000,000,0006.2%-31%30%
Table 2-1b
World Merchandise Trade Imports by Region and Selected Countries (US$)
 2010 Value2010 Share2009 Change2010 Change
North America$2,681,000,000,00017.8%-25%23%
Central & South America$576,000,000,0003.8%-26%30%
EU (27)$5,337,000,000,00035.5%-25%12%
Middle East$572,000,000,0003.8%-15%13%

Source: WTO and author's calculations.

All regions experienced double digit increases in the dollar value of both exports and imports in 2010, due in part to rising prices for fuels and other commodities.

For the developed economies, the value of merchandise exports jumped some 16 percent in 2010 to US$8.2 trillion, up from US$7.0 trillion in 2009. However, this rate was slower than the world average of 22 percent; as a result, the share of developed countries in world merchandise exports fell to 55 percent, its lowest level ever.

The higher prices for primary products exported predominantly by developing countries cannot fully explain the falling share of the developed economies in world exports. This is because export prices were even higher in 2008 but the share of developed countries in world trade at that time was also higher, at nearly 58 percent. Instead, slow growth in Europe has curtailed intra-EU exports as well as exports from other developed economies to that region. Additionally, concerns about the possibility of sovereign defaults in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain brought renewed instability to financial markets and fiscal austerity in the second half of 2010, which held Europe’s growth rate to the slowest of any region. A relatively sluggish recovery in the United States has also constrained trade in the developed economies.

Asia registered the fastest export growth of any region in 2010; at 31 percent, it was well above the global average. Japan, at 33 percent, led the way, followed by China and India (each at 31 percent), and the Asian NIEs2 (30 percent).

The resource-rich regions of the world also exhibited strong growth in the value of their exports last year. A pickup in energy prices helped boost exports from the CIS region by some 30 percent. Russia, the largest CIS economy, saw its exports expand by 32 percent. Similarly, exports from the Middle East, another oil-rich region, also grew by 30 percent over 2009 levels.

Africa was next in terms of largest relative gains. African exports rose by 28 percent in 2010 as exporters benefited from price gains in primary commodities such as metals and ores, as well by increasing demand on the part of fast growing developing economies like China and India.

Exports fromBrazil were up 32 percent, in turn helping to pull up total exports from South and Central America, which grew by 25 percent.

North America’s exports were up 23 percent. This was slightly better that the world average. Mexico’s rebound was the strongest, at 30 percent, followed by Canada (22 percent) and the United States (21 percent). However, part of the Mexican and Canadian performance is attributable to the appreciation of their respective currencies vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar. Calculated fromU.S. Federal Reserve Board statistics, the U.S. dollar depreciated 9.8 percent against the Canadian dollar and by 6.5 percent against the Mexican peso.

Lastly, exports from Europe grew the slowest in 2010, at 12 percent. Asmentioned above, financialmarket instability and fiscal austeritymeasures have held back growth in the region, which in turn has impacted trade performance. Export growth was led by the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, at 15 percent each. Germany also managed to post a growth rate greater than the regional average, while Italy and France underperformed relative to the regional average.

The story is similar on the import side, where developed economy imports increased 16 percent to US$8.9 trillion, while their share of world imports dropped to 59 percent from 61 percent in 2009 and 63 percent in 2008.

Imports into China expanded rapidly in 2010, up 39 percent, while imports into Japan and India grew at the more subdued pace of 25 percent. For the NIEs, imports were up by a third. Overall, imports into Asia expanded by 32 percent, to lead all regions.

Next in terms of fastest-growing imports were the South and Central America and CIS regions, where 2010 importswere up by 30 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

For North America, imports grew at the same rate as exports (23 percent). Again, trade grew fastest in Mexico, where imports were 29 percent ahead of their 2009 levels. Imports into the United States expanded at the same rate as the regional average, while growth was slowest in Canada, at 22 percent.

Imports into Africa were up by 14 percent, half the pace of exports from Africa. Oil-exporting African nations registered only a 4-percent increase in their merchandise imports, which helped trim the pace of imports into this region.

The Middle East and Europe were tied at 13 percent for the slowest rate of expansion of imports in 2010. For theMiddle East, the situation was similar to Africa where exports grew at a far greater pace than imports. For Europe, however, the economic malaise affecting domestic demand on the continent also curtailed imports, considering that an intra-EU export is also an intra-EU import. As with exports, France recorded the slowest pace of imports, at only 8 percent.

Trade volumes (real trade)

The volume of world trade (i.e., trade in real terms, adjusted for changes in prices and exchange rates) surged 14.5 percent in 2010. This was the fastest rate of growth in world exports on record since 1950. The rebound was strong enough for world exports to recover their peak level of 2008.

At the same time, measured world imports grew 13.5 percent last year. In principle, world exports and imports should increase at roughly the same rate, but some discrepancies exist due to differences in data recording across countries. According to the WTO, world trade as measured by exports grew four times as fast as global GDP in 2010, whereas trade normally grows about twice as fast as GDP.

The uneven recovery in output3 produced an equally uneven recovery in global trade flows in 2010. Merchandise exports fromdeveloped economies rose 12.9 percent in volume terms, while those fromdeveloping economies and the CIS jumped 16.7 percent. Moreover, imports into developed economies grew more slowly than exports last year (10.7 percent compared to 12.9 percent) while the situation was reversed for developing economies and the CIS (17.9 percent growth in imports compared to 16.7 percent for exports).

Only in Asia and North America did export volumes grow faster than the world average (15.0 percent and 23.1 percent, respectively), whereas slower than average growth was recorded in South and Central America (6.2 percent), Europe (10.8 percent), the CIS (10.1 percent), Africa (6.5 percent) and the Middle East (9.5 percent).

Among countries for which data are available, the five economies with the fastest-growing merchandise exports in volume terms were Jordan (30 percent), China (28 percent), Japan (27 percent), the Philippines (27 percent), and Chinese Taipei (27 percent).

On the import side, faster than average growth was observed in North America (15.7 percent), South and Central America (22.7 percent), the CIS (20.6 percent) and Asia (17.6 percent), while slower growth was reported in Europe (9.4 percent), Africa (7.1 percent) and theMiddle East (7.5 percent).

The BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China all reported very rapid import growth in 2010: 43 percent for Brazil; 39 percent for China; 30 percent for Russia; and 25 percent for India.

Prices and exchange rates

A firming in the global economic recovery and buoyant emerging markets fuelled demand for commodities in 2010. As a result, commodity markets turned in a strong performance last year, with prices gaining on average some 25 percent in U.S. dollar terms, the largest annual advance since 2005.4 All major commodity sectors recorded price increases in U.S. dollars in the range of 22 to 27 percent, with the exception of agriculture (10 percent). In particular, those sectors hardest hit by the downturn and those most levered to China registered the most notable upturns. These commodities included copper, nickel, pulp and crude oil (Figure 2-1).5

In Canada, average annual energy prices in U.S. dollar terms rose by 23.3 percent according to Bank of Canada statistics, while those formetals andminerals were up by 28.0 percent.

Figure: 2-1
Change in Commodity Prices from 2009 to 2010

Change in Commodity Prices from 2009 to 2010 Text Alternative

Source: TD Bank Commodity Price Forecast

Update, January 14, 2011.

Crude oil prices rose by 28.7 percent in 2010, averaging US$79.45 a barrel over the course of the year.6 Prices opened on January 4 at US$81.52 a barrel and remained above the US$80-mark for about a week before slipping beneath this threshold. In early March, oil prices again crossed above this threshold, remaining there until early May. Prices then fell, reaching their annual low of US$64.78 a barrel on May 25. On May 26, they breached the US$70-mark; by the start of October they were again above the US$80- mark. During the last week of the year they rose above the US$90-mark, closing the year out at US$91.38 on December 31.

Gold prices averaged US$1,224.55 per troy ounce last year, up 25.9 percent from US$972.39 in 2009. Prices ranged between a low of US$1,058.00 (February 5) to a high of US$1,420.00 (December 7).7

The direction taken by the U.S currency also affected commodity prices. The U.S. dollar depreciated against nearly all major and emerging market currencies in 2010. Movements were driven primarily by concerns about the relative U.S. growth prospects as the divergence in the underlying strength of the U.S. and global outlooks and the associated yield differential across those markets prompted some investors to reallocate capital away from the United States, putting downward pressure on the U.S. dollar. The depreciation of the U.S. dollar was also pronounced against currencies closely linked to commodities and the global growth cycle. On the other hand, as concerns about the sustainability of fiscal situations in Europe increased, the U.S. dollar appreciated vis à vis the euro and the pound sterling.

The Canadian dollar rose against the U.S. dollar fromUS86.6¢ to US97.1¢, a 10.9- percent rate of appreciation for the year. Because of the appreciation, each Canadian dollar of trade was worth 9.5¢ more when expressed in U.S. dollar terms. Thus, trade figures expressed in U.S. dollars overstate the Canadian trade performance in 2010.

Country Ranking by Trade Values

After having claimed top spot among the leading merchandise exporters in 2009, China cemented its hold on that position by posting a 31-percent increase in exports last year (Table 2-2). China’s share in world merchandise exports climbed to 10.4 percent in 2010.

Table 2-2a
Leading Exporters in World Merchandise Trade 2010 (US$)
 2010 Rank2009 Rank2010 Value2010 Share
United States23$1,278,000,000,0008.4%
United Kingdom1010$405,000,000,0002.7%
Table 2-2b
Leading Importers in World Merchandise Trade 2010 (US$)
 2010 Rank2009 Rank2010 Value2010 Share
United States11$1,968,000,000,00012.8%
United Kingdom66$558,000,000,0003.6%
Hong Kong910$442,000,000,0002.9%

Source: WTO and author’s calculations.

After slipping into second place in 2009, Germany lost another position in the ranking, falling to third place in 2010. Moving up into second place last year was the United States, as U.S. exports grew by some 21 percent compared to 13 percent for Germany. The U.S. and German world shares for 2010 stood at 8.4 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively.

Japan held onto fourth spot, registering growth of 33 percent in its exports and a world share of 5.1 percent.

EU nations accounted for all but one of the remaining top ten positions. The Netherlands and France remained in fifth and sixth place, respectively, with shares of 3.8 percent and 3.4 percent.

Strong export growth (28 percent) helped push Korea up fromninth spot to seventh while Italy and Belgium dropped back one position each, to eighth and ninth place, respectively. Korea’s share of worldmerchandise exports stood at 3.1 percent last year, compared to 2.9 percent for Italy and 2.7 percent for Belgium.

The United Kingdom rounded out the top ten world exporters in tenth spot with a 2.7-percent world share.

Canada slipped from12th place to 13th as Russia moved ahead of Canada.

On the import side, the United States held its position as the largest importing nation in the world by far, with a world import share of 12.8 percent. China (9.1 percent) and Germany (6.9 percent) held down the next two positions.

As noted earlier, France posted one of the lowest growth rates for imports in 2010. France’s poor import performance allowed Japan to overtake France for fourth spot among the leading importing nations of the world, while France slipped to fifth. Japan absorbed some 4.5 percent of the total world imports compared to 3.9 percent for France.

The United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy held on to the sixth through eighth spots, with world import shares of 3.6 percent, 3.4 percent, and 3.1 percent, respectively.

Higher rates of import growth for Hong Kong, Korea and Canada moved these three countries up one position, to ninth, tenth and eleventh places, respectively, while Belgium slipped from ninth to twelfth spot.

The world import shares for 2010 of these four economies were 2.9 percent, 2.8 percent, 2.6 percent, and 2.5 percent, respectively.

Services Trade

World services exports rebounded 8 percent to US$3.67 trillion in 2010 after having declined by 12 percent in 2009 (Table 2-3).

According to the WTO, the slower growth of services trade compared to merchandise trade can be partly explained by the smaller decline in services in 2009 (down 12 percent compared to a 22 percent decline for merchandise), which implies that faster than average growth will not be needed to catch up to earlier trends. Between 2005 and 2010, the average annual growth in the value of merchandise trade was the same as for commercial services trade (8 percent).

Table 2-3a
World Services Trade Exports by Region and Selected Countries (US$)
 2010 Value2010 Share2009 Change2010 Change
North America$599,000,000,00016.3%-8%9%
Central & South America$111,000,000,0003.0%-8%11%
EU (27)$1,553,000,000,00042.4%-15%2%
Middle East$103,000,000,0002.8%-3%9%
Table 2-3b
World Services Trade Imports by Region and Selected Countries (US$)
 2010 Value2010 Share2009 Change2010 Change
North America$599,000,000,00016.3%-8%9%
Central & South America$111,000,000,0003.0%-8%11%
EU (27)$1,553,000,000,00042.4%-15%2%
Middle East$103,000,000,0002.8%-3%9%

Source: WTO and author’s calculations.

Asian exports of services were up 21 percent last year, reaching US$963 billion. Transportation was themost dynamic sector, with a growth rate of 26 percent, closely followed by travel, which also rose rapidly (25 percent), while commercial services (which now represents half of the region’s services exports) increased by 17 percent.

South and Central America’s exports rose 11 percent to US$111 billion. Exports from Brazil grew faster than the regional average (15 percent).

Africa also posted an 11-percent increase in services exports in 2010, to US$86 billion. The continent’s exports advanced 12 percent to US$141 billion. In South Africa, travel receipts increased by 24 percent due to the large number of foreign visitors attending the FIFAWorld Cup.

The CIS was the only other region to post double-digit growth in services exports last year. Exports from CIS countries increased by 10 percent to US$78 billion last year. Russian export growth of 6 percent was driven by transportation services.

The Middle East exported US$103-billion worth of services in 2010, up 9 percent over 2009.

North America’s exports of services were up 9 percent year-on-year, to US$599 billion in 2010. Canadian exports led the way, registering 15-percent growth, while U.S. exports were up 8 percent year-on-year, and Mexico lagged with 5-percent growth.

While the value of Europe’s exports was larger than for any other region last year (at US$1.72 trillion), growth was also the least dynamic, just 2 percent on the export side. A 3-percent decline in travel services was at the root of this sluggish performance.

South and Central America’s services imports were up 23 percent to reach US$135 billion. As with its services exports, Brazil’s services imports grew faster than the regional average (35 percent), with particularly high growth rates observed for imports of transportation services (42 percent) and travel (51 percent, partly due to the strength of the Brazilian real)

Asia imported US$961-billion worth of services in 2010, up 20 percent year-on-year. Transportation was themost dynamic sector, with an import growth rate of 26 percent. For the CIS region, imports of services rose 14 percent to US$105 billion last year, led by Russia, where imports advanced 18 percent.

In Africa, imports advanced 12 percent to US$141 billion. South Africa posted a notable gain of 25 percent in services imports last year.

Both theMiddle East and North America experienced a 9-percent gain in services imports in 2010, the same as the world average rate. Services imports reached US$185 billion for the Middle East and US$471 billion for North America last year. Imports into Canada grew by 15 percent, while those for Mexico and the United States advanced by 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Finally, services imports into Europe edged up a mere 1 percent last year, to US$1.5 trillion. As with exports, a decline in travel services imports (2 percent) was at the heart of the weak performance.

Transportation was the fastest-growing component of services exports in 2010, with an increase of 14 percent to US$782.8 billion (Table 2-4). This performance is hardly surprising since transportation services are closely linked to trade in goods, which saw record growth last year. Travel grew in line with services overall, whereas commercial services (including financial services) advanced more slowly.

Table 2-4
World Exports of Services in 2010 (US$)
 ValueShare2009-10 Growth
All services$3,664,000,000,000100.0%8%
Commercial Services$1,945,000,000,00053.1%6%

Source: WTO and author’s calculations.

Leading Services Traders by Value

The United States exported US$515 billion in commercial services in 2010, or 14.1 percent of the global total,making it the world’s largest services exporter. The remaining four of the top five positions were taken by Germany (US$230 billion, or 6.3 percent of world exports), the United Kingdom (US$227 billion, or 6.2 percent of world exports), China (US$170 billion, or 4.6 percent of world exports) and France (US$140 billion, or 3.8 percent of world exports) (Table 2-5).

The United States was also the leading services importer, with purchases of US$358 billion from foreign providers, equal to 10.2 percent of world imports. This performance was followed by that of Germany (US$256 billion, 7.3 percent of world imports), China (US$192 billion, 5.5 percent of world imports), the United Kingdom (US$156 billion, 4.5 percent of world imports) and Japan (US$155 billion, 4.4 percent of world imports).

China replaced France as the fourthlargest exporter of commercial services, while Germany overtook the United Kingdom in second place. China also moved up the rankings on the import side, taking over the third position from the United Kingdom.

Table 2-5a
Leading Exporters in World Services Trade, 2010 (US$)
 2010 Rank2009 Rank2010 Value2010 Share
United States11$515,000,000,00014.1%
United Kingdom32$227,000,000,0006.2%
Table 2-5b
Leading Importers in World Services Trade, 2010 (US$)
 2010 Rank2009 Rank2010 Value2010 Share
United States11$358,000,000,00010.2%
United Kingdom43$156,000,000,0004.5%

1 WTO Press Release Press/628, “World Trade 2010, Prospects for 2011,” April 7, 2011.

2 Four economies comprise the newly industrialized economies (NIEs) of Asia: Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

3 See Canada’s 2011 State of Trade, Chapter 1.

4 “Commodity Price Rally Still Has Some Gas In The Tank,” Commodity Price Forecast Update, TD Economics, January 14, 2011.

5 “Commodity Price Rally Still Has Some Gas In The Tank,” Commodity Price Forecast Update, TD Economics, January 14, 2011.

6 Prices quoted are for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude trade in the spot market at Cushing, Oklahoma, as quoted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

7 Price per troy ounce, London Afternoon (PM) Gold Price Fixings as quoted at USA GOLD.