- Over the past decades EU Member States have focused their trade and export profiles towards sophisticated industrial products and services
- The accession of new Member States transformed the European Union into a stronger trade partner
- An outer ring of countries is still highly dependent on exports due to low levels of industrialisation but the presence of natural resources offers considerable opportunities for development and cooperation with Europe. This holds true for countries located in the Caucasus region
Observations for policy
Over the past decades EU Member States have focused their trade and export towards sophisticated industrial products and services. The accession of new Member States transformed the European Union into a stronger trade partner. However, other international players emerged, especially in the neighbourhood such as Russia, Turkey and Northwest Africa.
Europe 2020 suggests that the European Union should focus on high technology and knowledge economy industries recognising the growing power of emerging economies in low and medium levels of technology.
Export trade flows show that world economies have changed over the past half century. By measuring not only the total amount of exports but the trade structure by type of products聽 it is possible to show why and how relocation of industrial activities has taken place in the past, but also indicating future directions.
The map shows how national trade and export profiles have changed during the period 1967-2006. In the late 60s the world was characterised by a clear distinction between small number of countries with high technology (e.g. USA, Japan, EU15) and a majority of countries characterised by export of primary groups. Very few countries were integrated to the intermediate category of export of textile and electronics (e.g. Canada, India).
During the 1980s there were very few economies heavily tied to agriculture exports but many more based on energy exports following the escalation of energy prices in the 1970s. This overall trend can also be observed in Europe.
More recently there was a growing difference between the (extended) group of countries that mainly export energy or mineral resources and the group of industrialised countries which increasingly is made up of newly developing countries.
The industrial centres of the 1960s are now clearly in competition with new emerging economies which at the same time are also moving towards higher technology solutions. The new industrial countries are increasing their share in world trade, but also the bilateral exchange with new emerging markets.
There are interesting difference between EU27, Japan and USA. In Asia or North America, for instance, the process on industrialisation has spread towards neighbouring countries such as Mexico, Brazil, China or Korea. Some of these neighbouring countries are quite competitive in today’s economy.
Similarly, the integration of new Member States has transformed the European Union in a stronger trade partner. At the same time, there are other players gaining a new impetus, particularly those located in the neighbourhood such as Russia and Turkey. However, an outer ring of countries is still highly dependent on exports due to low levels of industrialisation. This holds true for countries located in the Caucasus region.
Concepts and methods
The map is built from data and aggregated data that covers simultaneously countries and groups of countries. Exports are grouped in eight classes of products, and the changes for each country are analysed in detail to understand the conversion of exports. Moreover, statistical techniques are applied to group similar countries. The results provide a better understanding of the changes verified in each country.