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The world trade is a powerful squeeze in global relations by unifiying regions and generating hierarchies.

New theories of trade, through agent-based simulations and the recognition of the institutional variety of business and non-business units, shed new light on the reasons of poverty, development, competition, co-operation, industrial integration.


Hierarchy structures in world trade
A new technique of analysis of trade values reveals the asymmetric structure of relationships among countries. The structure of world trade is characterised by bilateral absence of relations (82%) and dominance (40% in non-absent relationships), weak dominance (of two types: 24% and 22% respectively), whereas symmetric integration is just the 6% of non-absent relationships.

Essay Data

Check the position of your country in the world system!


The dynamics of hierarchy structures in world trade

Essay Data

Paper presented by EWI director at Princeton University.

Bilateral and total trade of all countries in the world: a long time series

An amazing huge dataset with the bilateral trade balance, imports, and export of 186 countries with each other (square matrices of 186 x 186), with yearly data from 1948 to 2000 (52 matrices). Standardized consistent values.

Compressed MS Excel [2.5 MB]

Download the full Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in one file (all chapters, all annexes, all side letters and all fact-sheets)

ZIP-ped PDF [53Mb]

Bilateral import promotion as a key to integration in a hierarchical world

Changing the world order from below: a challenge for rich and poor countries. This is a first policy to raise integration relations instead of dependence and isolation.


International Trade: Global Value Chains. An Approximation from Network Theory (2013)

Piana (2004) analysis is included in a much broader discussion on the hierarchies and relative positions attained by countries in the global value chains formed by bilateral


The competitiveness of Macedonian economy: a qualitative assessment with product differentiation

International trade is key for land-locked countries to express their role in the world. In this paper, the specific condition of Macedonian economy is analysed, in a new framework that recognizes the importance of non-price competitiveness (since products relying on price as major driver have recorded a decreasing market share) and outlines the necessity of targeting sectors and supporting infrastructure (scientific and educational institutions and policies) in order to capture the benefits of quality-, knowledge- and innovation-driven global economy.


The competitivity discourse and exchange rates policies

The objective of this study is to empirically analyze the discourse on correlation between exchange rate and country’s export competitiveness, which turns out to be an example of the dominance of oriented discourses, which give way for the elite to take advantage as a camouflage in the form of knowledge and truth, while others in the society never suspect nor argue about it.


Proximity in product space and diversification strategies
An empirical measurement of how difficult is to produce a new good when your country or your firm already produces another one. Based on a methodology proposed in a paper by Hidalgo, Klinger, Barabasi, and Haussman, several key datasets are freely distributed and ten steps of intentional diversification of national economies are outlined.


Key concepts

Trade balance


Balance of payments






Exchange rate




Product differentiation










Foreign direct investment






Key data

Bilateral trade by product

A huge cubic matrix of international trade by exporter, importer, and product. About 1 million records indicating trade among any two countries in the world (total and by product). From this dataset you can extract the world market for more than 1000 product categories (standard SITC codes at 4-digits of aggregation), exhaustive of merchandise trade. Cumulative values for 1998, 1999 and 2000. Data in DBF format, easily readably by free viewers and MS Access.


Export competitiveness of 182 countries

Export composition and Balassa index.


Bilateral merchandise balance among 99 countries

MS Excel


Bilateral remittances flows among 212 countries

MS Excel


Economic data: Exports, imports, trade balances for 181 countries - a time-series

Absolute figures, shares in world trade, rankings.

MS Excel


Origins and destinations in world trade - Trade flows over time

MS Excel


FDI Inflows, outflows, inward stock and outward stock in 200 countries - a long time-series (1970-2003)

Emigrants' remittances (205 countries): a long time series


World trade statistics

2004 2000


World trade in 2004, prospects for 2005

In 2004, China has become the third largest exporter and importer in the world.

World trade in 2003 by product

Summary statistics about trade values and flows in agriculture, the mining sector, manufacture, commercial services.


Exchange rates for 200 currencies, spanning across more than 20 years

In one sheet you can track and compare the yearly dynamics of 200 world currencies on the long term. Currency crises, fixed exchange rates and wide fluctuations in a fully international perspective.

MS Excel


UNCTAD Trade and Development Reports 1996-2007

2006 Web page 2007 Web page

2005 PDF 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996


Real world elasticities (144 countries) - Price elasticities and income elasticities of consumption classes (food and non-food) - Food share on household budget

MS Excel


Net exports for 136 countries and 42 years

The most user-friendly distribution of the main international database on GDP components (consumption, investment, public expenditure and net exports) for 136 countries and 42 years. Excellent for international comparisons, long-term growth enquiries and business cycle analysis, since it provides real values at constant prices comparable over time and countries.

MS Excel

MS Access

Inflation rates for 170 countries (1970-1996)

Yearly dynamics of inflation is presented in one sheet. Is price stability a common feature of the world economies? Is hyperinflation a disease that hurts some groups of countries more than others? Discover the answers to these and many other questions just analysing the real data.

MS Excel

World Oil Market and Oil Price Chronologies: 1970 - 2004



Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy (HALE) (55 countries)


Purchasing Power Parities (30 countries) 1980-2003

Data and use.

MS Excel




Trade with thy neighbour

Proximity international trade creates the kind of relative bilateral monopoly that might bring to economic integration on equal foot, with deep reciprocation and internalization of bilateral externalities.

Marginalized sub-national regions and communities might thrive because of the activation of legal trade across the border.

This paper assesses the importance of trade between neighbours for the involved regions and for the overall structure of the world relationships.


India – Sri Lanka: Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

An evaluation of the opportunities and challenges opened by the intensive negotiation work between these two neighbours.


Beyond comparative advantages: the role of innovation, income distribution and learning in building absolute advantage in international trade

The composition of international trade, and thus the international division of labour, is determined by national differences in technological, organisational and financial capabilities rather than relative factor endowments.

The existence of technology and income gaps across countries provides an important explanation of the difference between nations regarding the specialisation of international trade patterns.



Exports and their linkages to literacy

An exploration of the manyfolds relations of exports and the growth of the number of people capable to write.




US export promotion plan (September 2010)

Trade at risk - a strategy for South Africa

Precautionary, mitigation and adaptation measures for South Africa to trade collapse risk.

Essay Author's Homepage



Commodity-Dependent Developing Countries: problems and perspectives

43 developing countries depends on just one agriculture commodity for more than 20% of their exports. Other countries are similarly dependent on just a handful of primary commodities. Long-term decline in prices, short term fluctuations, poverty: these issues should be taken in a stronger account by the entire world community.

Problems and policy challenges

Presentation by Luisa Rodriguez (South Centre)

Agricultural commodity issues and some implications for the WTO negotiations on agriculture by Panos Konandreas (FAO)

Other papers and presentations

The South Centre website


Interpersonal Networks in International Trade: Evidence on the Role of Immigrants in Promoting Exports from the American States

The small worlds / social network theory - and the importance of Granovetter’s weak ties - are intriguingly connected to an important empirical problem: the relationship between emigrants and patterns in international trade.



Essay: Assessing the employment effect of FDI inflows to Egypt: Does the mode of entry matter? (2008)


Egypt has attempted to attract Foreign Direct Investments since 1974 and has offered generous incentives to achieve this target, motivated by low domestic savings rates accompanied by inefficient financial intermediation and the opportunity to benefit from the direct and indirect effects of FDI on increasing demand for labour. This is especially important given a chronic unemployment problem that the Egyptian economy suffers from. This paper extensively assess empirically the effect of FDI and argue about the importance of studying FDI at the most disaggregated possible level, since they are not homogeneous in their effects.


Earlier published at the Arab Planning Institute as proceedings to the conference "“The Unemployment Crisis in the Arab Countries

Main speeches at the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial Conference

The draft text of the main document of the WTO ministerial conference (17 Dec. 2005)


Shrinking gains from trade: A critical assessment of Doha round projections

This overview of estimates of gains from trade liberalization is quite interesting on the state of the debate and the crisis of standard Walrasian models, although, in the background, there is some simplistic reasoning that seems to sound: Walrasian models do not demonstrate enough gain from liberalization, so let's change the models.

Evaluating the benefits from liberalization in agriculture: are standard Walrasian models relevant?
Jean-Marc Boussard, Françoise Gérard, Marie Gabrielle Piketty from INRA - CIRAD shows that if (contrary to the strong versions of the "rational expectation hypothesis"), agriculture producers do not take their decisions on the basis of equilibrium prices only but take also risk into account, then the market can generate very harmful seemingly random fluctuations.

Liberalisation, preventing price stabilisation policies, results in more instability, and a decrease in welfare, as it is numerically demonstrated in both a partial equilibrium model of the world sugar industry and a GTAP-style general equilibrium model of the world economy.


For more information about agriculture research and the authors' activities for Africa and other development areas, see the pages from CIRAD and CEPED.

Agriculture: for a regulation of world trade placing development at the centre of WTO negotiations

In many southern countries, the liberalization of agricultural trade has contributed to an increase in the proportion of imported food in comparison with local products.

Food supplies, in particular for urban populations, is not longer provided by local producers but through import channels. Rural producers, deprived of these outlets, either migrate to the towns or are increasingly encouraged to specialize in export crops, thereby increasing small scale farmers’ dependence on the state of the world market.

[...] many countries, not only in the North but also in the South, have been able to export products sold at very low price, taking advantage of productivity gains brought by intensive production methods and encouraged by production incentives, including subsidies under European and American agricultural policies, rice stabilization policies introduced in Thailand, and massive government spending on sugar and soya beans in Brazil.

Not all countries have achieved such results though. Over half of the South’s family farming communities still use manual tools and animal draught power, and many developing countries generally cannot afford to apply incentive measures for their producers. The result is that work productivity varies from one group to the other, on average, in a ratio of 1 to 500.

Out of an critical analysis of the impact of WTO regualations, a series of recommendations on the occasion of the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference, Hong Kong, 13-18 December 2005 has been issued by Coordination SUD (Solidarité - Urgence - Développement).



You are an exporter
This business game will improve your skills in exporting, choosing target countries, fixing prices and quantities, while surfing between business cycles and changes in the cost structure. You'll better understand how the exchange rate impacts on exports and imports.

Suitable for beginners and researchers.

Download it now: essay and software


EU productivity and competitiveness: can Europe resume the catching-up process with US?

Country-level, industry-level and firm-level productivity in EU are compared with US and a policy for productivity catching-up is proposed.




Technological developments and their effects on world trade: any implications for governments?

Prof. Kibritcioglu summarizes several links between technological innovation (and imitation) and world trade, with a large spectrum of data matrices.



An example of information set for the export manager

Exporters often approach new markets just by participating to trade fairs, meeting there potential importers and building business relationships with them by trial and error. But a systematic overview of foreing markets can offer a more structured approach. In this report by U.N. Bhati, you'll find a good instance of what an export manager can find in such documents to orient its actions and business plans.

A Statistical Profile of Forest Product Market in South Korea [362 KB]


Japanese Foreign Aid, Development Expenditures and Taxation: econometric results from a bounded rationality model of fiscal behaviour

A path-breaking methodology for assessing the behaviour of foreign aid receivers. Investment in human and physical capital has been a significant factor in Malaysian GDP growth. Both internal and external sources of finance have been used in promoting investments as well as development expenditures.

But foreign aid could have been used, by a bounded rational bureaucratic policymaker, in many different ways, not all conducive to development.


Country concentration of Turkish exports and imports over time

Through international trade, countries develop their own net of privileged partners. Turkey is an extremely interesting example of a fast changing developing country. In this paper, Prof. Güzin Erlat shows not only data analysis but also a methodology to address the issue of concentration and diversification of exports. The Product Cycle Theory of international trade is given further data support.



Intra-regional trade in South Africa Development Community

A gravity model is used to assess trade potential around South Africa and contrasted with the author's own estimates of intra-regional trade. The model examines how the reduction of trade transaction costs, the level of development and the size of an economy influences trade potential amongst countries.

A major finding is that fundamental structural and economic factors such as the transaction costs of trading, the growth paths of economies and changes in per capita income should be the focus of regional integration rather than trade policy in its own right.



The unofficial history of UNCTAD


Reinventing UNCTAD

In the dialectics among international organization as WTO, World Bank, ILO, etc. UNCTAD could find a new role.

Essay from the South Centre


Innovation and competitiveness: trends in unit prices in global trade

An evolutionary economics approach to an important issue of world trade.


Evolution in the "terms of trade" and its impact on developing countries (2005)



Determinants of Exports and Investment of Manufacturing Firms in Tanzania


Findings from a survey of 83 firms.

Exports, FDI, and Productivity: Dynamic Evidence from Japanese Firms (2006)

Using an extraordinarily rich longitudinal panel data on Japanese firms, it is found that the most productive firms engage in exports and foreign direct investment, medium productive firms engage in either exports or foreign direct investment, and the least productive firms focus only on the domestic market. Moreover, exports and foreign direct investment appear to improve firm productivity once the productivity convergence effect is controlled for.



Trade and labour mobility: an empirical enquiry with micro-data

Rising out of a number of empirical studies linking measures of labour-market adjustment to trade patterns, this research has focused on industry-level measures and determinants of adjustment and employed individual-level data on manufacturing employees in the United Kingdom to construct “distance” measures of worker moves across industries and occupations.




Changing Structure of Global Food Consumption and Trade

Shifts in food consumption have led to increased trade and changes in the composition of world agricultural trade. Given different diets, food expenditure and food budget responses to income and price changes vary between developing and developed countries. In developing countries, higher income results in increased demand for meat products, often leading to increased import of live-stock feed.


Further economic data: UN COMTRADE

Query-based huge database. It's free up to 1000 results.


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