UNCTAD Transport statistics - 2023 report


(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2023 provides a wide range of statistics and indicators relevant to the analysis of international trade, economy, investment, maritime transport, and development overall. It comes at a time of cascading crises that overlap and compound each other. The Handbook of Statistics is the global reference for trade and development trends published each year.

It provides official statistics on how the global economy has evolved across regions, countries and sectors.

By using “nowcasts”, the handbook provides data-driven real-time estimates of current developments. These can assist governments in anticipating shifts in trade and the economy before final official statistics are available.

International trade dynamics

  • Trade in goods falls: Following a strong recovery from COVID-19 in 2021, goods exports increased by 11.4% in 2022, reaching $29 trillion. But statistics show a 4.6% decrease in merchandise trade in the first half of 2023, and UNCTAD nowcasts a continued year-on-year decline for the third and fourth quarters.
  • Trade in services continues to rise: Trade in services rebounded by 14.8% in 2022, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Services trade grew more in developing countries, which in 2022 reached their highest global market share to date at 30%. Globally, UNCTAD nowcasts around 7% growth for trade in services in 2023.
  • Global trade imbalances increase: Developed economies recorded a growing merchandise trade deficit, reaching $1.6 trillion in 2022.
  • Commodity exports increase: All major commodity groups saw significant trade increases in 2022. Fuel exports grew by nearly 62% due to higher prices. Food exports grew by 10%.

Regional trends

  • Regional integration differences remain: For Europe and Asia, more than half of exports remain within the region, whereas for Oceania, Africa, and the Americas, most of their exports are directed to other regions.
  • South-South trade increases: The value of trade between developing countries grew by 13%. But developing economies still trade more with developed economies ($8.9 trillion) than among themselves ($6.1 trillion).
  • Trade composition differs across regions: Africa’s exports are mainly primary goods (79% in 2022), while Asia and Oceania export mostly manufactured products (72% in 2022).

Global economic trends

  • GDP growth slows: UNCTAD nowcasts a slowdown in global GDP growth from 3.1% in 2022 to 2.2% in 2023.
  • Reduction of global economic inequality stalls: Over the past 10 years, the global distribution of GDP among economies has trended towards becoming more equal. However, the richest economies in the world accounted for 63% of global GDP in 2022 but only 17% of the world’s population. This presents a slight increase in inequality from 2021.
  • Foreign direct investment falls: Global FDI fell by 12.4% in 2022, mainly due to a sharp 36.7% decline in developed economies. Meanwhile, FDI inflows grew by 4% in developing economies.
  • Inflation returns from peak levels: Global inflation peaked in 2022, reaching its highest point in the 21st century. From early 2023, consumer prices started to return from their peak. For instance, global market fuel prices were 43% lower in August 2023 compared to their peak in August 2022, and food prices were 7% lower.

Population and urbanization

  • Population grows: The world’s population surpassed 8 billion in 2022, with most of the growth happening in Africa and developing economies in Asia. In 2022, five in six people lived in a developing economy.
  • Old-age dependency increases: The share of elderly people is growing in all regions. This is causing total dependency ratios to increase everywhere except in Africa, where it’s expected to continue to decline beyond 2050 due to decreasing child dependency ratios.
  • The world becomes more urban: In 2022, 57% of the global population lived in urban areas.


For even more details, you can download here below, the Maritime Transport section of the UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2023 (Section 5, contains Maritime Transport):



Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)




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