The most fundamental, twenty year, tendency is shown in Figure 1. This is the well known consistent trend, since the late-1980s, for a major rise in the share of developing countries in world exports - and the decline of the share of already industrialised countries.
The share of industrialised countries in world exports fell from 70.3 per cent in 1988 to 53.3 per cent in 2007. In the same period the share of developing countries rose from 27.9 per cent to 45.2 per cent.
Considering these trends in greater detail, Figure 2 divides exports from developing countries between those in Asia and those outside Asia. Again the trend is clear.
The rising share of developing countries in Asia in world exports is continuous throughout the last quarter century - the share of developing Asian countries in world exports nearly tripling from 8.3 per cent in 1980 to 23.7 per cent in 2007.
For the initial part of the period after 1980 the share of non-Asian developing countries in world exports fell - this was particularly accounted for by a decline in the value of the share of world exports from the Middle East associated with the decline in the real price of oil in that period. However since the early 1990s the share of non-Asian developing countries in world exports has been rising steadily. The share of non-Asian developing countries in world exports rose from 13.5 per cent in 1992 to 21.5 per cent in 2007, while in the same period the share of Asian developing countries in world exports rose from 15.2 per cent to 23.7 per cent.
Since 1992, therefore, the increase in the proportion of world exports accounted for by Asian and non-Asian developing countries has been almost equal - the increase in the share of world exports accounted for by Asian developing countries being 8.5 per cent and the increase in the share of non-Asian developing countries being 8.0 per cent.
It is the combination of this rising share of world exports from both Asian and non-Asian developing countries that accounts from the strong overall rising trend in the share of developing countries in world exports. The phenomenon since the beginning of the 1990s is therefore one of developing countries in general and not one only of Asia.
Considering these trends in more detail, the huge role played by the development of China is evident. Figure 3 shows the share of world exports for China, developing Asia excluding China, and, to provide a comparison for the developed Asian economy, Japan.
The rise of China is evident - China's share of world exports rose from 1.0 per cent in 1980 to 9.8 per cent in 2006 - the last year for which full figures are available. In the same period the share of other developing Asian countries in world exports rose from 7.3 per cent to 13.7 per cent. Therefore, in this period, China alone accounted for 58 per cent of the increase in the share of developing Asian countries share of world exports - China's increase in the share of world exports being 8.8 per cent compared to 6.4 per cent for all other developing countries in Asia. Particularly since 1990 China's increase in the share of world exports has considerable exceeded that for the rest of the other developing Asian countries put together.
In contrast, to take the main developed country in Asia, the declining importance of Japan in world trade is evident.
In 1980 Japan accounted for almost as high a share of world trade as all the other developing countries in Asia combined. Since 1986 the share of Japan in world exports has declined sharply - falling from 10.3 per cent in that year to 5.3 per cent in 2007. In 1980 the developing Asian countries, including China, accounted for 8.3 per cent of world exports and Japan for 6.5 per cent. By 2006 the developing Asian economies, including China, accounted for 23.7 per cent of world exports and Japan for only 5.3 per cent. In 1980 Japan's exports were equivalent to 78 per cent of those from the developing Asian countries, while by 2006 Japan's exports were equivalent to only 22 per cent of those of the combined exports of the developing Asian countries.
The relative decline in importance in world of exports of Japan, and the rise of the developing Asian countries, above all China, is evident.
The more detailed trends for Asian developing countries, other than China, are shown in Figure 4. This confirms continuing strong export growth by South Korea. However Singapore, and more recently Malaysia, having been losing some world visible export share. Vietnam has been gaining export share steadily but from a very low base.
India stands out clearly as a large economy but with a very low share of world exports. India's share of world exports is only just over one per cent and has not been rising very strongly.
Such figures illustrate strikingly the different path of development being undertaken by China and India - the contrasting development in shares of world exports for India and China is shown in Figure 5.
India's economy is growing rapidly, but essentially within its domestic economy. India's share in world exports remains both very low and only slowly growing.
India's economy, in short, shows no signs of being strongly competitive on an international scale despite known strength in individual sectors such as software. China's economy is growing even more rapidly than India and enjoying rapid export growth - China's economy, in short, shows far more signs of being competitive internationally than India's. This is line with the the data on the much greater size and development of Chinese firms compared to India that has been analysed elsewhere.
Both India and China are extremely important markets but China's economc fundamentals and competivity continue to be significantly stronger than India's.
Turning to non-Asian developing countries, the overall picture is shown in Figure 6. The main trend in the early part of the period considered is the sharp fall in the share of exports coming from the Middle East - reflecting the fall in the relative real price of oil after the beginning of the 1980s. It may also be noted that, despite the increase in the price of oil in the most recent period, the Middle East has only moderately increased its share of world exports, from relatively depressed levels, and its has not retained the position held at the beginning of the 1980s - in terms of trade surpluses, as opposed to share in world exports, a number of Middle East countries continue to be extremely important.
In contrast, the share of world exports from developing countries in Eastern Europe has risen significantly - from 4.4 per cent of world exports in 1999 to 8.0 per cent in 2007. Within this total the share of Eastern Europe excluding Russia rose from 3.1 per cent of world exports to 5.8 per cent, while Russia's share rose from 1.4 per cent to 2.6 per cent.
Over the period as a whole Africa's share of world exports fell from 4.5 per cent in 1980 to 2.6 per cent in 2007- although there has been a small recent revival from the extremely depressed levels in the mid-1990s.
The share of developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (Western Hemisphere) in world exports fell significantly in the mid 1980s but has since risen again. The rate of increase, however, is still modest compared to countries in Eastern Europe and even more so when compared to Asia. Latin America and the Caribbean's share of world exports rose from 4.3 per cent in 1992 to 5.9 per cent in 2007.
Considering the situation within Latin America there was an increase in Mexico's share of world exports in the 1990s but this has since fallen back significantly. No Latin American country has gained world export share in the way that has been experienced in Asia. This is shown in Figure 7.
Summarising these developments overall the following the following key trends emerge.
The increase in the share of world exports from developing countries started in Asia, however since the early 1990s this trend has become substantially more generalised. The increase in the share of world exports coming from Asian and non-Asian developing countries was essentially equal in the 15 years 1992-2007.
The success of China is even greater when placed in a comparative framework than when considered by itself. China is now the world's largest visible exporter - overtaking the US and Germany.
Asia outside China in the recent period has ceased to gain world market share in visible exports, after an exceptional performance for several decades. South Korea continues to show outstanding visible export performance but several other Asian developing economies have lost world market share. India's share of world exports continues to be extremely low for such a large economy and shows no strong trend to rise.
East European developing countries, both Russia and non-Russian, have an export performance which is second only to Asia - although lagging substantially behind Asian success.
Latin America and Africa's role in world exports has not yet increased - despite the commodity boom.
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This post first appeared on the blog Key Trends in Globalisation.