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Trade and Development Report 1991

image of Trade and Development Report 1991

Overall, the trade volume performance of developing countries in 1990 was mixed. There was a considerable deceleration in the growth of exports from South and South-East Asia for the second consecutive year, mainly owing to a sharp slowdown in the exports of the four more in- dustrialized economies of the region. Also for the second consecutive year, Latin America re- corded negligible export growth, particularly for non-energy products. However, results were highly varied among countries: those suffering from continued macroeconomic instability fared far worse than the remainder. In Africa, the volume of exports registered an unusual spurt in 1990, but much of it was due to higher oil exports by the region's few energy-exporting countries. Moreover, in commodity markets increases in export volumes are often associated with softness of prices. In China, after a setback in 1989 exports recovered the momentum characteristic of the 1980s, while imports fell substantially in response to restrictive macroeconomic policies.

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International markets and developing countries

The recent past has been characterized by a slowing in the expansion of world trade and of international financial flows, and a weakening of commodity prices. These developments occurred against the background of the slowdown in the world economy described in the preceding chapter. The deceleration in economic growth in some major industrialized countries, especially the United States, was the principal cause of fatigue in world trade. The deep recession in Eastern Europe and the Gulf crisis were additional factors. In Germany, sharply increased import demand coincided with weakening export growth, with a favourable net impact on world trade. The export expansion of most developing countries slackened under the impact of faltering economic growth in the developed countries. A number of developing economies with important trading relations with Eastern Europe were hard hit by the economic downturn in this region; others were adversely affected by the Persian Gulf crisis. The dynamics of import growth in some developing countries in South- East Asia and oil-exporting developing economies were, on the other hand, favourable to trade expansion.

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