Accelerating merchandise trade supports G20 trade recovery, but services trade growth slows

After a slow third quarter, G20 international merchandise trade accelerated in value in the fourth quarter of 2021, partly due to high commodity prices, particularly energy. While shipping costs kept the value of trade in transport services at record highs, trade in other services slowed, particularly in Europe, possibly reflecting a tightening of Covid-19 restrictions around the end of the year.

G20 international merchandise growth accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2021, with exports up 3.4% and imports up 5.0%, compared to the previous quarter and measured in current adjusted US dollars. seasonal variations. This compares to the slower growth (1.5% for exports and 0.9% for imports) recorded in the third quarter of 2021. Energy price increases continued to fuel merchandise trade growth in value, while the pressure on supply chains, including for semiconductors, seemed to ease towards the end of the year.

Growth in services exports and imports for the G20 is estimated at around 2.5% and 2.4% in the fourth quarter of 2021, respectively, compared to the previous quarter and measured in seasonally adjusted US dollars. Preliminary estimates compare to the 3.8% and 3.5% rates recorded in the third quarter of 2021 for exports and imports. Services trade continued to grow at a healthy pace in North America and most of East Asia, while growth slowed in Europe.

In 2021, annual G20 merchandise exports and imports increased by 25.9% and 26.1%, respectively, with values ​​about 16% above their 2019 levels. base explain part of the increase, stimulus packages also played a role in stimulating demand for traded goods. The annual growth of services exports and imports is estimated at around 15.0% and 11.3%, respectively. As transport costs soared, travel, which includes spending by non-residents abroad, recovered but remained subdued. Trade in computers, A recovery in trade in vehicles and parts helped boost North America’s merchandise trade growth in the fourth quarter of 2021, exports from the United States (+7.1%), Canada ( +6.7%) and Mexico (+6.0%) all recorded strong growth. The growth in imports from Canada (up 7.2%) and the United States (up 5.9%) was largely attributable to higher purchases of home electronics and mobile phones.

Merchandise exports contracted instead in Argentina and Brazil (minus 7.3% and minus 5.0%, respectively), with lower shipments of metal ores and soybeans (mainly to China) weighing on the figures in particular. Brazilians. Imports, on the other hand, increased by 13.0% in Argentina and by 11.5% in Brazil, the latter being driven by energy products, electrical machinery and fertilizers.

Merchandise trade picked up in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2021, following the weak growth observed in the third quarter of 2021. European Union (EU-27) exports and imports increased by 2.3% and 5.1% , respectively. All major European G20 economies posted robust merchandise trade growth: France (exports and imports up 2.6% and 6.3%, respectively), Germany (up 2.2% and 5.8%) and Italy (up 2.5% and 4.5%), with purchases on the rise. energy products behind the import figures and the recovery in the trade in vehicles and spare parts. UK merchandise exports and imports increased by 3.2% and 5.3%, respectively, with chemicals, machinery and transport equipment driving exports and energy products contributing to growth. import growth.

Electronics and vehicles (including electric cars) continued to drive Korea’s export growth (up 5.2%), while Japan saw more moderate export growth (up 5.2%). 0.5%) and imports (up 2.2%). China’s merchandise exports (+4.6%) and imports (+0.9%) rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2021, after much weaker figures in the previous quarter. Electronics and integrated circuits helped drive export growth, with integrated circuits also fueling import growth, along with soybeans and metal ores. India, with exports up 2.2% and imports up 10.7%, and Indonesia (up 8.9% and 13.1%), also posted strong numbers of merchandise trade in the fourth quarter of 2021. Lower metal prices and lower coal and fuel shipments hurt Australia’s export growth (minus 3.5%), while imports increased by 7.5%, largely due to higher spending on vehicles, telecommunications equipment and home electronics. South Africa’s exports also contracted by 2.1% in the fourth quarter of 2021, reflecting declines in its main exports of metal ores, fruits and electrical machinery, while imports increased by 3.3%. %.

G20 trade in services, based on current price figures (billions of United States dollars), seasonally adjusted

Visit the OECD Interactive Data to deepen this data OECD Statistics and Data Directorate and national sources. Note: Q4 2021 services trade values ​​are preliminary estimates based on available data, covering around 60% of exports and imports for the G20 aggregate.

For 2021 as a whole, the value of merchandise trade for the vast majority of G20 members more than recovered from the declines experienced in 2020. Exports and imports increased by 23.1% and 21.3 %, respectively, in the United States, with energy products and pharmaceuticals registering strong growth on the export side. Similarly, annual exports and imports increased by 20.8% and 25.1% in the European Union. Electronics (integrated circuits, mobile phones, monitors and computers) continued to propel merchandise exports from Korea (up 25.6%) and China (up 32.2%). Machinery and vehicles and parts contributed to the growth of Japan’s total merchandise exports (+18.3%), while imports rose 21.3% during the year. Major commodity exporters benefited from strong demand and strong price increases, with merchandise exports soaring in 2021 for Russia (up 47.5%), India (up 42.1%), Indonesia (up 38.4%) and South Africa (up 44.9%). business services and financial services performed well in most G20 economies in 2021.

Trade in services presented a mixed picture in the fourth quarter of 2021. After the expansion recorded in the previous two quarters, trade in services in Europe slowed down in the fourth quarter of 2021. Exports of services increased by 1.8% in France, weak sales of financial services and insurance partially offset growth in travel (+15.9%) and transport (+4.3%). German exports contracted by 2.3%, while imports rose moderately by 1.2%. The United Kingdom recorded a slowdown in services exports (minus 2.4%) and imports (minus 2.5%), while Italy’s exports and imports increased by 1.6% and 3 .6%, respectively.

Turkey’s trade in services continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2021. Exports increased by 4.0%, while imports increased by 8.0%, reflecting the strength of purchases of IT and business services. Similarly, Russia’s trade in services expanded considerably, with exports increasing by 8.4% and imports by 19.4%.

Easing travel restrictions and high transportation costs have supported the growth of services trade in North America. The United States recorded a 6.6% increase in services exports, with travel and transportation up 39.4% and 11.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021. Imports increased more moderately by 4 .3%. Similarly, Canada’s services exports and imports increased by 6.5% and 6.1%, respectively, from the previous quarter.

Transport, IT and business services continued to drive the growth of services trade across East Asia. Exports increased by 5.5% in Korea, construction, of which Korea is one of the main exporters, recovered strongly (+55.9%) after three quarters of contraction. China also recorded a strong growth of 6.1% in its services exports, fueled by a rise in sales of transportation, IT and business services. Imports increased by 4.6% in Korea and 3.8% in China. Japan, on the other hand, experienced declines in services exports and imports (minus 3.9% and minus 5.0%, respectively), reflecting lower trade in all services except transportation.

Due to prolonged entry restrictions, which depressed travel receipts, services exports contracted further in Australia, registering a decline of 4.9% in the fourth quarter of 2021. However, services imports increased by 4.9%, driven by transport (+21.8%). In Brazil, services exports increased by 0.7%, while imports increased by 3.4% due to higher purchases of business services and transport.

For 2021 as a whole, most G20 economies recorded a robust rebound in services trade from the previous year, although in many cases values ​​remain below pre-crisis levels (2019) due to subdued travel figures. Services exports from Korea and China, up 34.8% and 42.5% year-on-year, respectively, are an exception: soaring transport revenues, as well as buoyant figures across all services, pushed total exports well above their 2019 levels. Japanese exports and imports grew more moderately over the year (+4.2% and 5.3%, respectively), while trade restrictions Travel restrictions continued to weigh heavily on Australia’s services exports (down 8.4% from 2020). Services exports and imports grew 8.6% and 16.2% in the United States, with financial and business services fueling export growth, and transportation and travel fueling import growth. In Europe, annual exports from France (+18.0%), Germany (+15.6%) and the United Kingdom (+8.1%) are all close to their 2019 levels, reflecting largely the dynamism of trade in business and financial services. With travel receipts twice as high as in 2020 (but still 30% below their 2019 levels), Turkish services exports jumped 56.2% in 2021.
Source: OECD