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UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics offers crucial economic data for global decision-makers

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UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in December 2017 launched its annual Handbook of Statistics to celebrate its fiftieth year of publication.

The 2017 edition has been overhauled, making it user-friendly, and features a wealth of maps, charts, and infographics. Of particular interest to anyone involved in global mobility or multinational business, the Handbook provides a coherent overview of trends worldwide, as well as novel summary analyses of countries, regions and sectors.

This year’s handbook reveals that 2016 was a difficult year for African economies. This was particularly evident in merchandise exports, which fell by 10.5%. Decreasing volumes of goods loaded in seaports for international shipment (-1.3%) and falling foreign direct investment receipts (-3.5%) also illustrated the challenges. Nevertheless, for the region, GDP grew by a modest 1.7%. However, other statistics indicate some favorable trends for African economies. Since June 2016, for example, the UNCTAD commodity price index has been increasing year-on-year. The current account deficit of many African economies stabilized in 2016 and stopped rising. Looking at demographic trends, the proportion of people of working age in Africa is expected to grow rapidly, yielding a demographic dividend and a positive effect on labor supply.

The handbook also illustrates the importance of trans-continental and intra-region trade and how they vary across continents.

In 2016, for example, 69% of the European exports remained within Europe and 59% of the Asian exports remained in Asia. By contrast, for North America, Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa, most exports were delivered to economies outside those of the exporters.

The UNCTAD Handbook is available for download here.

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