International trade statistics: trends in first quarter 2015


International trade slows sharply in first quarter of 2015


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28/05/2015 - Against a backdrop of an appreciating US dollar and declining oil prices, total merchandise trade, in current US dollars, for G7 and BRIICS economies fell sharply in the first quarter of 2015, with (seasonally adjusted) exports and imports declining by 7.1% and 9.5% respectively compared to the previous quarter. 

In the United States exports and imports, which were also partly affected by a labour dispute at important West Coast ports, declinedby7.1% and 4.2% respectively in the first quarter of 2015. 

In Canada exports and imports dropped sharply, by 10.9% and 7.9% respectively, although in Canadian dollars exports only fell by 2.9% with imports rising by 0.5%. Similar sharp falls occurred in the United Kingdom (with exports and imports down by 12.0% and 9.5%). In Sterling terms, trade also fell markedly. Exports fell less markedly in Japan (by 3.5%), but imports were down 9.8% on the previous quarter. Measured in Yen, however, exports were up 0.5% and imports down 5.9%. 

Amongst Euro Area countries, exports and imports fell sharply in Germany (by 8.6% and 8.2% respectively), Italy (9.3% and 8.5%), and France (9.6% and 9.2%).  In Euros, exports and imports grew marginally by around 1% in all three countries. 

Merchandise trade also contracted in BRIICS economies. In India a near 20% slump brought trade down to its lowest levels since the beginning of the crisis. Similar strong falls in imports occurred in China (down 14.3%) although exports fell less sharply, down 2.7% on the previous quarter. 

In Russia a combination of factors, including EU sanctions, which compounded the effects of lower oil prices and the collapse in the Rouble, saw exports and imports shrink to their lowest levels since Q1 2009. In Indonesia and South Africa exports fell by 4.7% and 7.1% respectively and imports fell by 4% in both cases.

Merchandise trade in US$ billion
Seasonally adjusted data at current prices and exchange rates


Source: Statistics on International Trade Database, OECD




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