Global Trade Data
World Economics Research Programme
Published: December 2019
There are serious problems with official trade statistics since according to the IMF in 2016 the world imported US$339 billion more than it exported. The Ricardian concept of comparative advantage in final goods is no longer fully relevant to explain trade between countries and the solution is to operate a paradigm shift in the packaging and interpretation of trade data. The accuracy and reliability of data is affected by a number of key biases separate from data quality issues and misreporting. The main problems are trade data asymmetries; the Rotterdam Effect and the impact of global value chains. Until this happens international trade statistics will be used as evidence of global trade imbalances and form the basis of potentially misguided policies aimed at their correction.