WTO: Exports of intermediate goods sustain gains in Q1 of 2021 after rebound from pandemic

World exports of intermediate goods (IG), such as parts and components, rose by 20% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021 according to a new WTO quarterly report released today (2 September 2021) to help track the health of global supply chains. The increase sustains the upward trend in IG exports following the sharp decline in the second quarter of 2020 when the global spread of the COVID-19 crisis was in its early stages.

Exports of intermediate goods by region, 2019Q1-2021Q1

Exports of intermediate goods sustain gains in Q1 of 2021 after rebound from pandemic
Source: Trade Data Monitor (98 reporting economies, including estimates for Africa).

Asia recorded the highest growth in exports of intermediate goods in the first quarter (28 per cent) due to a 41 per cent increase in Chinese exports of industrial intermediate goods, mainly parts for information communication technology equipment and photovoltaic cells.

The most resilient supply chains in the first quarter were for ores, precious stones and rare earths, with exports increasing by 43 per cent in the first quarter, and for food and beverages (up 22 per cent). In contrast, exports of transport parts and accessories posted the weakest recovery at 6 per cent following steep declines in 2020 as the pandemic affected both demand for and production of automotives.

The first quarter information note on trade in intermediate goods, which kickstarts a new series of short reports monitoring recent trends and providing insights on trade in IGs, is available here.

A separate information note is further provided on world trade in 2020 of platinum group metals (PGMs), a commodity used in electronic components, catalytic converters to treat automobile exhaust emissions, and other industries. PGMs accounted for around 2% of ores, precious stones and rare earths exported in 2020 and are strategic inputs for many industries. Such reports dedicated to specific goods reflecting topical issues and core products exchanged within supply chains will be occasionally released to complement the quarterly reports. Access all reports on trade in IGs here.

Trade statistics on intermediate goods reflect the international exchanges of parts, components, accessories used to produce final products and serve as an indicator of the activity in supply chains.


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