WTO: Exports of intermediate goods gain momentum in Q2 with 47% year-on-year increase

World exports of intermediate goods (IG), such as parts and components, rose by 47 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2021, according to a new WTO quarterly report released to help track the health of global supply chains. The increase sustains the upward trend in IG exports recorded in the first quarter (20 per cent), during which IGs trade from most top exporters largely exceeded 2019 pre-pandemic levels.

Exports of intermediate goods gain momentum in Q2 with 47% year-on-year increase
Exports of intermediate goods gain momentum in Q2 with 47% year-on-year increase

Africa recorded the highest growth in exports of IGs in the second quarter (88 per cent), mainly due to strong jumps in exports of precious metals and stones such as rhodium, diamonds, copper/copper cathodes and iron ore concentrates. South and Central America recorded a 53 per cent increase, also related to a strong rise in exports of primary commodities such as iron and copper ores.

China maintained high growth in supply and demand of international inputs (more than 40 per cent in Q2 2021), while the largest increases were recorded for Australia’s IG exports (74 per cent) — mainly due to exports of iron ore concentrates (101 per cent in Q2) and wheat and meslin (183 per cent) — and India’s imports (119 per cent), essentially linked to non-monetary gold (1,034 per cent), non-industrial raw diamonds (896 per cent) and integrated circuits (333 per cent).

Exports of transport equipment rose the highest in Q2 2021, by 69 per cent. This is mainly a recovery from a low base after the strong decline observed for the sector in Q2 2020 — the automotive industry suffered the most in terms of effects on demand and supply chains during the peak of the pandemic.

Exports of food and beverages increased the least in Q2 2021, by 29 per cent. Unlike other industries, the food sector did not show a marked slowdown in Q2 2020.

IGs are inputs used to produce a final product. They range from crops used in food production to textiles and metals needed to manufacture goods. Trade in intermediate goods is an indicator of the activity in supply chains, which was severely impacted in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis. The share of IG in total trade (excluding fuels) in Q2 2021 was 52 per cent, a ratio that remained constant over the last decade.

The second quarter information note on trade in intermediate goods is available here.


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