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World Trade Report 2010

Trade in Natural Resources

image of World Trade Report 2010

The World Trade Report 2010 focuses on trade in natural resources, such as fuels, forestry, mining and fisheries. The Report examines the characteristics of trade in natural resources, the policy choices available to governments and the role of international cooperation, particularly of the WTO, in the proper management of trade in this sector. A key question is to what extent countries gain from open trade in natural resources. Some of the issues examined in the Report include the role of trade in providing access to natural resources, the effects of international trade on the sustainability of natural resources, the environmental impact of resources trade, the so-called natural resources curse, and resource price volatility. The Report examines a range of key measures employed in natural resource sectors, such as export taxes, tariffs and subsidies, and provides information on their current use. It analyzes in detail the effects of these policy tools on an economy and on its trading partners. Finally, the Report provides an overview of how natural resources fit within the legal framework of the WTO and discusses other international agreements that regulate trade in natural resources. A number of challenges are addressed, including the regulation of export policy, the treatment of subsidies, trade facilitation, and the relationship between WTO rules and other international agreements.

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Merchandise and services trade, value (nominal) terms, 2009

The US dollar value of world merchandise trade fell 23 per cent in 2009 to US$ 12.1 trillion, down from US$ 16.1 trillion in 2008. Some of this decline was due to changes in trade volumes, while much of the rest can be explained by falling commodity prices in 2009, particularly for oil. After rising to record levels in 2008, world crude oil prices plunged 37 per cent in 2009, from US$ 95 per barrel to US$ 60 per barrel on average. As a result, nominal trade developments for particular countries and regions may differ substantially from developments in volume terms, particularly for oil exporters on the export side and oil importers on the import side.

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