Dynamics of the commodity structure of international trade in goods

The world commodity market is divided into three main groups:

the market for basic goods (agricultural products and extractive industries); market of medium and low-tech, mainly labor-intensive finished products and intermediate products; market of high-tech products.

The first group (basic goods), whose share is constantly decreasing, is the market for the products of developing countries and some countries with economies in transition. Since the quality of basic goods is more or less the same, here the main form of rivalry is price competition, and the form of counteraction to it is cartel agreements (such as OPEC), subsidies to agriculture.

In the group of medium-tech finished products, mainly developing countries compete, more precisely, the group of so-called “catching-up countries”. Competition here is becoming increasingly fierce due to the active entry of transition economies into these markets.

The market of high-tech products is an area of fierce competition between developed countries involved in the race of scientific and technological innovations and not interested in the emergence of new competitors on the world market.

In general, about 63-64% of total world exports of goods (with some fluctuations) fall on developed countries. Of this share, about 75 per cent of exports are exported among the developed countries themselves, about 20 per cent of the goods go to developing countries, and about 5 per cent to post-socialist countries. In turn, developing countries export about 70% of their exports to industrialized countries. And also about 20% of goods are sold in their mutual trade, and about 5% falls on supplies to former socialist countries. The share of post-socialist countries in international trade is about 11%.

The existing division of the states of the world community into states – suppliers of raw materials and states – owners of financial and intellectual resources – leads to an increase in the gap in per capita GDP indicators between developed and developing countries.

The reduction in imports of energy and raw materials has led to a decrease in the share of trade between developed countries and third countries.
At the same time, exports under the item “cars and vehicles” are steadily increasing – on the one hand, due to internal exchange between developed countries, and on the other – there is an increase in their exports to developing countries. Imports of cars and vehicles also increased sharply.

From a comparison of the commodity structure of exports and imports of countries, highly developed market economies, it is obvious that the exports of finished products are higher than their imports, a higher proportion of fuel imports, approximately equal share of imports and exports of raw materials, almost the same share of food products and agricultural products, the share of which is unlikely to decrease in the future – apparently, it has reached a possible “threshold” of decline. The most rapidly developed export and import of fuel. In second place are finished products, followed by food products, agricultural products and, finally, industrial raw materials.

If until the 70s, the international trade in industrial products, on the one hand, and raw materials on the other, prevailed in the international trade, now the exchange of industrial products, complex high-tech products (electronics, information technology, technological systems and entire factory complexes, not to mention components for machines, components, etc.) is increasingly asserted, mainly between industrialized countries.

The decline in the share of food products is associated with an increase in agricultural production in developed countries, as a result of which their food self-sufficiency has long been achieved. At the same time, the volume of mutual food exchange between developed countries is growing. Each of them acts as both an exporter and an importer of food, which reflects the high level of specialization in the production and consumption of food products, as well as the operation of the law of increasing human needs in modern conditions, which makes it possible in the conditions of a modern market society, one way or another, to realize the requirement of this general sociological law.

The decrease in the share of imports of raw materials, in turn, is explained by three main reasons: the expansion of the production of synthetic materials based on the development of the chemical industry, the large use of the resources of domestic raw materials and the transition to resource-saving technologies, when the share of raw materials in the production of a unit of industrial production decreases. At the same time, international trade in mineral fuels – oil and natural gas – has increased dramatically as a consequence of the development of the chemical industry and changes in the structure of the fuel and energy balance. But this trend is also unsustainable and depends on changes in the technological base of production, as well as on the dynamics of the industrial cycle in the world economy.