World Trade Organization Annual Report: Trade Numbers Fall

From the April 8 release of the annual World Trade Organization (WTO) report from Geneva, the key message is: “This crisis is first and foremost a health crisis which has forced governments to take unprecedented measures to protect people’s lives,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said.

“The unavoidable declines in trade and output will have painful consequences for households and businesses, on top of the human suffering caused by the disease itself.

“The immediate goal is to bring the pandemic under control and mitigate the economic damage to people, companies and countries. But policymakers must start planning for the aftermath of the pandemic,” he said.

  • Per the WTO, world merchandise trade is set to plummet by between 13% and 32% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A 2021 recovery in trade is expected, but dependent on the duration of the outbreak and the effectiveness of policy responses.
  • Nearly all regions will suffer double-digit declines in trade volumes in 2020, with exports from North America and Asia hit hardest.
  • Trade will likely fall steeper in sectors with complex value chains, particularly electronics and automotive products.
  • Services trade may be most directly affected by COVID-19 through transport and travel restrictions.

Global merchandise trade stalled in 2019 under the weight of persistent trade tensions, with trade turning down toward the end of the year. Merchandise trade volume already fell by 0.1% in 2019. The dollar value of world merchandise exports in 2019 fell by 3% to $18.89 trillion (USD). The value of commercial services exports rose 2% to $6.03 trillion (USD) in 2019.


US 2019 Trade Statistics

In 2019, U.S. combined goods and services exports were almost $2.5 trillion. Exports of services alone hit a record $846.7 billion. The largest export markets for U.S. goods in 2019 were Canada ($292.3 billion), Mexico ($256 billion), China ($106.6 billion), Japan ($74.65 billion) and the United Kingdom ($69.15 billion).

California 2019 Trade Statistics

California is one of the 10 largest economies in the world with a gross state product of $3 trillion. International trade and investment are major parts of our economic engine that broadly benefit businesses, communities, consumers and state government.

California’s economy is diverse, and the state’s prosperity is tied to exports and imports of both goods and services by California-based companies, to exports and imports through California’s transportation gateways, and to movement of human and capital resources.

Although trade is a nationally determined policy issue, its impact on California is immense. Trade offers the opportunity to expand the role of California’s exports. In its broadest terms, trade can literally feed the world and raise the living standards of those around us.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that in 2019, California exported $173.3 billion to 229 foreign economies. California’s top export markets are Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and South Korea. California maintained its perennial position as a top exporting state and as the number one state in two-way trade.

In 2019, exports to markets with free trade agreements (FTA) accounted for almost 40% of California exports. Since 2007, exports from California to FTA markets have grown by more than 25%. California exports to FTA partners totaled $68.44 billion in 2019. (ITA)

Exports from California accounted for 10.5% of total U.S. exports in 2019. The state’s exports translate into high-paying jobs for more than 1 million Californians. International trade, including exports and imports, supports nearly 5 million California jobs–nearing 1 in 4 jobs.

The California Chamber of Commerce supports expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad, and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business.

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

Susanne T. Stirling
Susanne T. Stirling, senior vice president, international affairs, has headed CalChamber international activities for more than four decades. She is an appointee of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the National Export Council, and serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Policy Committee, the California International Relations Foundation, and the Chile-California Council. Originally from Denmark, she studied at the University of Copenhagen and holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of the Pacific, where she served as a regent from 2012 to 2021. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. See full bio.