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International Merchandise Trade: Key Indicators

Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2023
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International Merchandise Trade: Key Indicators

This map includes a collection of 10 different key indicators on merchandise trade from the UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2023.



Merchandise trade refers to the import and export of tangible goods between countries. These goods are physical items such as electronics, clothing, machinery, agricultural products, and raw materials. Merchandise trade is often what people first think of when they hear "international trade" as it involves the actual movement of products across borders and is measured by the value of these goods.



In analyzing the dynamics of global trade, it's crucial to understand the flow of goods between nations. This flow is captured through two key metrics: exports and imports. Exports are goods and services sold by a country to the international market, while imports are those bought by a country from abroad. The difference between a nation's total exports and imports is known as the trade balance, which can either be a surplus (more exports than imports) or a deficit (more imports than exports).



The map shows the value (in millions of US$) in 2021 and 2022 of merchandise exports and imports for different economies. It also shows the annual growth rate from 2021 to 2022, as well as each economy's share of the world total.



In 2022, the value of global merchandise exports rose by 11.4%, reaching $24.9 trillion, according to the UNCTAD data. This marked a second year of strong merchandise trade growth after the COVID-19 pandemic.



The United States and China are the two most significant economies in the global trading system:

  • China: Dominated as the top exporter with $3.59 trillion in exports (a 7.0% increase from 2021) and was the second-largest importer with $2.72 trillion in imports (up 1.1% from 2021), playing a pivotal role in global trade. China maintained a massive trade surplus, amounting to $877.37 billion in 2022, making it the country with the largest positive trade balance globally.
  • United States: Ranked as the second-largest exporter with $2.06 trillion in exports (a significant 17.7% increase from 2021) and led as the top importer with $3.38 trillion in imports (rising 15.0% from 2021), underscoring its major influence in international commerce. The United States recorded the largest trade deficit, with a shortfall of over $1.31 trillion, highlighting its position as a major consumer of imported goods.



This text was written with the assistance of ChatGPT 4.