According to The World Trade Organization, in 2002, world trade recovered from its decline in 2001. The average annual rate of merchandise trade expansion in 2002 was 3 percent. Sluggish import demand in Western Europe and a sharp contraction of Latin AmericaÆs imports constituted a drag on global trade expansion. The World Trade Organization (WTO) suggests that developments in 2002 further accentuated the two large regional trade imbalances in the global economy: the already large North American trade deficit widened and the substantial surplus of the Asian region increased even further. North AmericaÆs merchandise imports exceeded exports by $400 billion or forty percent, while AsiaÆs exports were fifteen percent larger than imports. All other regions recorded moderate or declining surplus positions. As oil-exporting countries reduced their trade surplus, the trade balances of the Middle East and that of the transition economies moved closer to equilibrium. Western EuropeÆs trade surplus strengthened slightly while weak domestic demand and reduced capital inflows turned Latin AmericaÆs trade deficit into a surplus. According to the WTO, among the main features of world trade in 2002, four are outstanding:
A combination of declining exports and rising imports by the United States has led to a record trade and current account deficit, the latter equivalent to 5% of its GDP.
ChinaÆs trade expansion remained outstanding. In the 1990s, ChinaÆs trade growth was three times faster than global trade and between 2000 and 2002 its exports and imports rose by 30%, while world trade stagnated. China has become the fourth largest merchandise trader in 2002. Across the globe, China has become a major supplier and for many economies and a major export destination.
Chemicals emerged as the product group with the strongest trade growth over the last two years. Driven by pharmaceutical trade among the developed countries, its share i...