International trade statistics: trends in fourth quarter 2023

G20 merchandise trade growth flattens while services trade rises moderately in Q4 2023

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22 fév 2024 – After several quarters of decline, G20 merchandise trade growth flattened in value terms in Q4 2023, as measured in current US dollars (Figure 1 and 2). There was little change in exports and imports compared to Q3 2023, as a robust recovery in East Asia was counterbalanced by a slowdown in Europe and North America. Export growth stagnated in the United States, with lower sales of automobiles being offset by higher sales of industrial supplies. In the European Union, exports were down by 0.6% driven by a decline in chemical products, while imports were down by 1.8%. Conversely, merchandise trade growth was strong in East Asia. China recorded a 0.6% increase in exports, in part driven by high tech products such as mobile phones, and a 3.9% increase in imports due to mechanical and electrical products. Exports increased in Japan and surged in Korea due to strong automobile sales and a recovery of the Korean semiconductor business. Higher sales of primary commodities fuelled export growth in Australia, Indonesia, and Brazil.

On the services side, preliminary estimates[1] point to moderate growth for the G20 in Q4 2023 compared to the previous quarter, as measured in current US dollars (Figure 1 and 2). Exports and imports are estimated to have grown by 1.6% and 1.3% in Q4 2023, respectively, following the 0.9% decrease in exports and 0.2% increase in imports in Q3. Exports rose by 2.5% in the United States reflecting higher receipts from most services, while imports expanded by 2.0% due to higher travel and transport expenditures. In Germany, exports grew by 1.6%, reflecting higher revenues from business and computer services, and imports rose by 2.0%, in part driven by higher travel expenditure abroad. Conversely, services exports fell markedly in France (minus 3.8%) and the United Kingdom (minus 6.2%), with imports also decreasing moderately in both countries. Soaring receipts for intellectual property services boosted export growth in Japan. Services exports also rose markedly in Korea and China, reflecting a widespread recovery across most service categories.

G20 merchandise trade contracted in value terms in 2023 as a whole, with exports and imports decreasing by 3.3% and 5.5%, respectively. Conversely, preliminary estimates suggest that G20 services trade continued to expand in 2023, with export and import growing at around 7.3% and 10.5% respectively.

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