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Overview of major trade developments in 2006 – WTO reports

Apr '07
The overall picture in 2006 was of trade expanding in real terms (i.e. ignoring price changes), faster than output by a large margin. The dollar value of world merchandise exports increased by 15% to $11.76 trillion in 2006. Commercial services exports were up by an estimated 11% and reached $2.71 trillion in 2006.

Price changes affected the nominal merchandise trade growth rates of countries and whole regions. The annual average prices for fuels and metals rose sharply, benefiting the export earnings of fuels and metal exporters.

The four regions with the highest share of fuels and other mining products in their merchandise exports (the Middle East, Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States — CIS — and South and Central America) again recorded the strongest annual export rise in 2006.

The United States recorded its best annual merchandise export growth in more than a decade but its trade deficit continued to grow. However, when adjusted for price changes, US merchandise exports expanded faster than world trade and faster than US imports.

China's trade growth continued to outstrip other major traders. China's merchandise exports grew by 27%. In the second half of 2006, its merchandise exports started to exceed those of the United States, but for the whole year US exports still exceeded those of China.

Least-developed countries' exports rose sharply in 2006 due to much larger values of fuels exports and stronger exports of other primary products and manufactured goods.

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