A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development



Aiming to facilitate the work of researchers and policymakers, UNCTAD regularly develops new trade indicators. Most recently, three new indicators, covering all country groups for the period of 1980-2010, have been published in UNCTADstat.

The new indicators are the following:
Merchandise and services trade balance indicators make it possible to compare countries' overall trade performance irrespective of the size of their economies. The series includes: a) trade balance (surplus/deficit) of a country as a percentage of its total trade and b) trade balance of a country as a percentage of its total imports and c) trade balance as a percentage of GDP.
Merchandise and services trade openness indicators measure the importance of trade for the country’s economy. They are expressed as a percentage share of trade (exports, imports or an average or exports and imports) in the country's GDP. Open countries usually have a high share of trade in GDP.
Merchandise trade complementarity indicator helps evaluate the suitability/desirability of a trade agreement between two economies. The structure of one potential partner’s exports should match the imports of the other one. Changes over time indicate that trade profiles of partner countries are becoming more or less compatible.
In addition, UNCTAD publishes several other useful indices, in particular:
Terms of trade and purchasing power indices of exports: Both indices show how much a country or a group of countries gain from global trade.
The terms of trade index measures the ratio of export prices to import prices. Higher terms of trade (higher growth or slower fall of export prices as compared to import prices) mean that a country can import more for a given volume of exports. If import prices rise faster than export ones, the terms of trade deteriorate and a greater volume of exports is needed to maintain the same imports.
The purchasing power index of exports measures the volume of imports that can be financed by the exports. Its increase means that exports values grew faster than import prices.
Concentration and diversification indices of merchandise exports and imports by country: The countries’ concentration index shows whether exports and imports are concentrated on several products or rather distributed more evenly among a series of products.
The countries’ diversification index show whether the structure of exports or imports by product differs from the world trade structure for that specific product.
Concentration of merchandise exports and imports by product: The products’ concentration index assesses the degree of market concentration and indicates whether the trade in a product or group of products is concentrated in a few countries or distributed more evenly among a large number of countries.
Structural change indices of merchandise exports and imports by product: The structural change index shows changes of the market share for a given product or product group among exporting or importing countries compared to a reference year.
More information:
  • UNCTADstat
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