UNCTAD: recovery of exports and imports is multisectoral

UNCTAD highlighted on Tuesday that the trade recovery in the second half of 2020 has encompassed most goods sectors, with the exception of the energy and transport equipment sectors.

The value of trade in these two sectors was still about a third lower in the second half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

In particular, according to UNCTAD, while the recovery in trade in the third quarter of 2020 was largely driven by sectors related to goods for which demand increased due to Covid-19, that is, textiles (including equipment from personal protection) and office equipment (for the home), the recovery has been much broader in the fourth quarter of 2020, with trade in most sectors showing positive growth.


The Covid-19 pandemic is having profound impacts not only on global demand but also on the relative competitiveness of countries.

While exports have declined for most countries, some countries have gained in terms of global market share as their economies were better able to withstand the challenges of the pandemic.

For now, the drop in global demand brought on by Covid-19 has forced less competitive providers out of global markets, while allowing more competitive providers to thrive during the recovery process.

Although it is too early to fully assess the implication of Covid-19 in export competitiveness, the following table provides an indication of how the exports of some of the major economies have performed during the pandemic.

The table presents a general index of export performance, which considers not only the growth of gross exports, but also the market share, the composition of the export basket, and the export performance of direct competitors.

The table also reports the volatility of exports experienced by these economies during Covid-19.


According to UNCTAD, more volatile exports are an indication of export vulnerability, especially when accompanied by low export performance.

During the pandemic, Vietnam, Uganda, China, Switzerland, Turkey and Taiwan Province of China have experienced relatively better export performance.

In contrast, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Colombia and Nigeria performed relatively worse.

Covid-19 has deeply affected international trade because its effects have been very diverse in all economic sectors.

The competitiveness of countries has changed in all sectors, with some economies gaining market share in some sectors and losing competitiveness in others.