Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The fall and rise of world trade

The IMF's Finance and Development Journal is a good source of information and data on the world economy. And despite what some on the Left might think it's fairly balanced as well.

The latest edition provides some data on the fall and rise of exports of the top 10 exporters and provides some info on why Australia has done better than many other countries.

Before the crisis - from 2000-08 - China's exports grew by 700 per cent.

But as the graph shows, its exports dropped substantially during 2008-09. For the top 10 exporters, which account for 50 per cent of world trade, exports dropped by 34 percent between October 2008 and March 2009. But by "the second quarter of 2010, the top 10 exporters had recovered 55 percent of their decline during the crisis."

Indeed, China's exports have nearly recovered their 2008 peak.

Perhaps of more interest for Australia is the import side of the equation, which shows that China's imports have surpassed their 2008 peak. The US, however, stuck as it is in its financially induced mire has recovered, but still has a long way to go before it regains its 2008 peak.

The real question is whether this disparity will eventually matter for the world economy and for China (and Asia) in particular, i.e. can China's trade continue to boom if the US and Europe continue to lag with imports. Overall the recovery in imports of the top 10 has been substantial. According to the IMF:
During 2000–08, the top 10 importers—who bought about 50 percent of world imports—increased their foreign purchases by 51 percent, with the United States the clear leader. As with exports, the financial crisis caused a significant drop in imports of 35 percent during the same six-month period—October 2008 to March 2009. But there was a similar sharp rebound in imports. By the second quarter of 2010, the top 10 importers had recovered 58 percent of the crisis-induced decline.
Another interesting visual from this graph illustrates that the US has once again surpassed Germany as the second biggest exporter with the German export recovery faltering slightly in early 2010.

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