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December 15, 2017
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Global Trade and Container Flow Index: Trade stabilizing as economies emerge from recession

World trade growth was flat in Quarter 4 of 2009, at about US $1.626 trillion.

We are pleased to introduce the Global Trade and Container Flow Index, developed in partnership with Capgemini Consulting. The index is calculated for the 23 countries with the highest volumes of global trade. It assesses quarterly changes in the competitive position of each country, based on the latest official data available from national agencies.

The four key indicators used to calculate the global tradeflow portion of the index are: total trade (including imports and exports) in thousands of TEU (20-foot equivalent) containers, quarter-over-quarter trade growth, foreign markets for a country's goods, and domestic market size. Our analysis shows that world trade growth was flat in Quarter 4 of 2009, at about US $1.626 trillion. One reason why is that, as domestic consumption improved, government stimuli waned in economies across the globe. Figure 1 shows an excerpt of the index that includes the top 13 nations.

Article Figures
[Figure 1] CapGemini Consulting Global Trade Flow Index
[Figure 1] CapGemini Consulting Global Trade Flow Index Enlarge this image
[Figure 2] Container throughput vs. growth in trade
[Figure 2] Container throughput vs. growth in trade Enlarge this image

Rising trade volumes point to a gradual revival in global economies. In the United States, total trade grew for the second consecutive quarter, gaining about 9 percent in Q4 with help from a relatively weak dollar. China's exports jumped 11 percent, allowing it to surpass Germany as the world's largest goods exporter in 2009.

We expect similar trade growth in Q1 of 2010, but that will be contingent on economies' ability to be self-sustaining. This may be difficult for some developed economies to achieve, as domestic consumption is still not strong enough to sustain growth without government stimulus plans. In particular, China's ambitious growth path may not be sustainable after the withdrawal of "crisis-mode" policies designed to promote domestic consumption.

The global container-flow portion of the index is based on analysis of the number of TEUs passing through the world's 20 largest ports. As shown in Figure 2, while growth in total trade remained steady, the growth rate for container flow slowed during Q4 2009. Still, positive growth in December 2009 at a majority of ports indicates global recovery of transport volumes. The Q4 decline in the growth rate probably was due to shippers improving container utilization in response to the uptick in trade during the previous quarter.

For more information about Capgemini Consulting's trade information services, go to, or contact Dan Albright, vice president or Jennifer Karppinen, senior consultant.

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