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World trade last year recorded a record decline – in goods by 8%, in services – by 21%, but the changes affected individual countries in different ways: China increased its share in global exports from 12% to 13%, ahead of Germany in the size of the current account surplus … Countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, by contrast, have faced falling exports and narrowing surpluses. As a result, the global volume of current account surpluses and deficits reached 3.2% of world GDP, reversing a long-term decline.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a strong but short-term impact on global trade, according to reports from the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. At the same time, the rates of decline turned out to be different, which led to an increase in the unevenness of export and import supplies of individual countries. As a result, the total volume of global current account surpluses and deficits last year increased to 3.2% of global GDP (this indicator has been consistently decreasing since 2015, by 2019 – to 2.8%). The total volume of surpluses amounted to $ 1.7 trillion, deficits – $ 1.4 trillion (the difference between them is explained by discrepancies in trade statistics).

Among the main reasons for the increase in the indicator are restrictions on tourism, falling oil prices, an increase in demand for medical goods, as well as changes in household consumption habits. Large-scale anti-crisis programs launched by many countries also had a significant impact on trade flows. This year, the discrepancies will be even more pronounced, the IMF believes. However, this effect will not have long-term consequences: in five years, the total figure will decrease to 2.5%, this will be facilitated by an increase in China’s imports (and a reduction in its surplus) and a reduction in the US trade deficit.

Among large countries, Germany (7.6% of GDP, $ 265 billion), South Korea (4.2%), Russia (3.9%) and Japan (3.6%) still have the strongest surpluses.

For comparison: in China, last year’s indicator amounted to 1.6% of GDP (but outstripped German in absolute terms – $ 271 billion, a year earlier – $ 103 billion), in Saudi Arabia – 2.8%. The largest deficits are in the United States ($ 616 billion) and the United Kingdom (in both cases 3.9% of GDP). In Russia, the current account surplus has almost halved compared to 2019: from $ 65 billion to $ 34 billion.

Accordingly, the United States remains the largest borrower (the country’s net international investment position declined from minus 51% to minus 67% over the past year), and Spain, the UK and Australia are also on the list of major debtors. By contrast, the largest lenders are Japan, Germany, Hong Kong and China. Funding growing deficits is still easy, thanks to favorable conditions in financial markets.

Note that last year, world trade in goods decreased by 8%, to $ 17 trillion, services – by 21%, to $ 5 trillion (in the second quarter, the decline was a record – 30%, while in goods – 23%).

At the same time, the turnover in the most affected sector – tourism decreased almost threefold: from $ 1.5 trillion to $ 550 billion. China, the leading exporter, accounted for 13% of supplies versus 12% a year earlier; , 3% to 6.6%. Unlike fuel and mineral resources, the supply of which sank by 23.9%, food exports even increased over the year – plus 0.9% (exports of industrial goods decreased by 5%, including in the automotive industry – by 16.4% from – for disruption of supply chains).

The cost volume of supplies decreased more than the physical one – by 7.6% and 5.3%, respectively (and in Asia this discrepancy was the most significant – minus 4% and minus 0.5%, respectively, only the CIS and the Middle East countries recorded a larger gap, however this is due to the fall in oil prices). This year, the growth may amount to 9.9%, the IMF predicts (in services – 5.8%).

Source: Parliamentary newspaper

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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