Statistics aid trade decision-making

9 August 2019

At a time of great uncertainty for global trade, with the United States again imposing higher tariffs on Chinese exports, the role of trade statistics takes on a renewed significance, according to Roberto Azevêdo.

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) spoke when introducing the latest World Trade Statistical Review.

Governments need the latest data to take informed decisions and to determine the best direction of trade policy for the benefit of the people they represent, he argues, and the WTO’s data-gathering role plays a big part in meeting this need.

The Review, which is one of two annual statistical publications recently issued by the WTO, considers the latest trends in global trade and offers an in-depth analysis of trade in goods and services and of how leading economies are performing.

It also looks at the participation of developing economies and least-developed countries in world trade, the latest developments in regional trade agreements, trade in value-added terms and digital trade.

Trade-restrictive and trade-facilitating measures implemented by WTO members are highlighted, as is implementation of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The World Trade Statistical Review 2019 is available at

The other publication of note is Trade Profiles 2019, which provides a series of key indicators on trade in goods and services for 197 economies, highlighting the major exports and imports for each and their main trading partners.

Each profile has four main sections, covering: the importance of trade in the economy (including GDP, GDP per capita, current account balance, trade per capita); Merchandise Trade indicators; Trade in Commercial Services; and Industrial Property Indicators.

Trade Profiles 2019 can be found at