Exports hit an all-time high in February

Since 2001, when the country joined the World Trade Organization, China’s merchandise exports have been increasing by nearly twice the growth rate of global exports. As a result, China has now overtaken Germany as the world’s leading merchandise exporter, accounting for almost 10 percent of world exports, according to the latest annual trade rankings compiled by the WTO for 2009. Chinese companies shipped abroad goods worth $1.2 trillion last year.Germany, the world’s No. 2 exporter 2009, sold $1.12 trillion of goods worldwide. American exporting companies closed the gap with Germany in 2009, with $1.06 trillion in exports. As a result, the WTO ranked the United States the third largest merchandise exporter in 2009. Worldwide exports of goods reached $12.5 trillion in 2009, with the top three exporters accounting for 27 percent of the total. In the first two months of 2010, national exports rose to $197 billion, $30 billion — or 18.2 percent — more than the same period in 2009. The monthly numbers for 2010 indicate that American foreign sales are on a rapid recovery path following a deep downturn in 2009. In New Hampshire, during the January-February period, exports increased by an annual rate of 48.4 percent from the same period of 2009. Accordingly, New Hampshire ranked third in export growth among the 50 states during in the first two months of this year. In the latest snapshot of monthly trade numbers, exports from New Hampshire’s companies leaped 7 percent in February from the previous month, following an increase of 29.8 percent in January. At their February mark, foreign sales registered an all-time high of $388.2 million — $25.3 million more than in January. Manufactured goods accounted for 80 percent of all state exports. Foreign sales from New Hampshire’s manufacturers decreased in February by 2.4 percent from the previous month to $311.2 million. Still, the overseas shipments of manufactured goods were $132.7 million, or 75.5 percent, higher than in February 2008. Exports of non-manufactured goods rose 74.4 percent in February to $76.9 million. These goods include agricultural and mining products and re-exports, which are foreign goods that have entered the state as imports and are exported in substantially the same condition as when imported. What are the prospects for global trade in 2010? “We seem to be emerging from the crisis,” said WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, who presented summary results of the 2010 report on trade and economic prospects on April 15 in Santiago, Chile.The Geneva-based organization forecasts worldwide exports to increase by roughly 9.5 percent in 2010. The WTO predicts the 2010 trade expansion will be particularly strong in developing countries, with exports rising by 11 percent, while in industrial countries exports will increase by 7.5 percent. But the growth in world exports “is insufficient to bring about a return to pre-crisis levels this year,” said Lamy. In the industrial countries, like in the United States, it “would require three years of growth” in trade levels to surpass the peaks of 2008, Lamy added.Evangelos Simos, chief economist of the consulting and research firm e-forecasting.com, is editor for International Affairs in the Journal of Business Forecasting, and professor at the Whittemore School of Business & Economics, University of New Hampshire. He may be reached at eosimos@e-forecasting.com.