Export competitiveness during COVID-19

COVID-19 is having profound impacts not only on the global demand but also on the relative competitiveness of countries.

While exports have declined for most countries, some countries have gained in terms of global market share as their economies were able to better weather the challenges of the pandemic. The fall in global demand brought by COVID-19 has forced least competitive suppliers out of global markets, while enabling the most competitive suppliers to thrive during the recovery process.

Although it is too early to fully assess the implication of COVID-19 on export competitiveness, the table below provides an indication of how the exports of some major economies have performed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The table reports an overall export performance index, which considers not only raw export growth but also market share, composition of the export basket and the export performance of direct competitors.

The table also reports the export volatility experienced by these economies during COVID-19. More volatile exports are an indication of export vulnerability, especially when accompanied by low export performance.

Overall export performance, January to November 2020 (selected economies)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, VietNam, Uganda, China, Switzerland, Turkey and Taiwan, Province of China have experienced relatively better export performance In contrast, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, and Nigeria performed relatively worse.

COVID-19 has profoundly affected international trade because its effects have been very diverse across economic sectors.

The competitiveness of countries has changed across sectors, with some economies gaining market share in some sectors while losing competitiveness in others.

Source: UNCTAD estimations based on national statistics and UN COMTRADE database.

Note: Export performance is a composite indicator which includes growth rates, performance vs peers, and competitiveness in major and dynamic markets. A high (low) score implies export performance above (below) average.

Export volatility is measured by the variance of export performance during the period. The indices consider only trade in goods.

-UNCTAD Geneva, also photo

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