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The implications of the global financial crisis for developing countries' export volumes and values

Working paper

Written by Jane Kennan

Working paper

Industrialised countries are in their deepest recession since World War II and the resultant slump in demand has already seriously affected commodity prices. Global growth rates have been revised downwards and there is ample evidence that the financial crisis has reduced global demand for developing country products, thus reducing their export revenue. The European Union’s (EU) biggest economies, Germany, the UK and France, recorded declines of about 30% in their food and live animal imports in October 2008 compared with October 2007.

However, no clear trend of declining EU and US demand for the single commodities analysed in this study is visible so far. The import figures are erratic and do not yet indicate a declining trend – either for total imports or for those from selected developing countries – as a response to the crisis. Since monthly trade figures are likely to show some abnormalities, we expect to observe clearer volume trends in the coming months.

In addition to declining prices and lower demand for some goods, the global financial crisis has also affected developing countries by aggravating the price volatility for some commodities, increasing revenue uncertainty for commodity-dependent countries. Moreover, South–South trade is expected to suffer, with China, India, South Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina heading towards recession.

Mareike Meyn and Jane Kennan