Share of World Goods Exports, Leading Exporters, 1950-2018

Share of World Goods Exports, Leading Exporters, 1950-2018

Source: WTO.

While the contribution of major traders to global exports can fluctuate in time, the share of the world-leading exporters (United States, Japan, Germany, and China) remains relatively stable around 32% of global exports. The relative decline of American exports has been an enduring trend, losing its status as the world’s largest exporter in 2003 to Germany and to China in 2009. Japan’s share substantially improved up the mid-1980s as the country followed export-oriented strategies. However, this share declined afterward, the outcome of the offshoring of its manufacturing activities.

Japan experienced a different process, which still led to offshoring. Its post World War II recovery leaned on exports and cars became an important component of its international trade. From the 1990s, many American, Japanese and Korean corporations started to relocate to China some of their production facilities, so a share of Chinese exports is embedded within supply chains in part controlled by foreign interests.