World IG exports increased by 21 per cent year on year in the fourth quarter of 2021, continuing the upward trend observed throughout the year. However, growth was slower than the 27 per cent recorded in Q3 and the 47 per cent in Q2.
The pace of trade in IGs, which range from crops used in food production to textiles and metals needed to produce goods, is an indicator of the level of activity in supply chains.
“Other industrial supplies”, comprising manufacturing inputs such as metal structures, electrical conductors and medical and pharma products, continued to be the key driver of growth, with a year-on-year increase of 31 per cent in Q4. World exports of food and beverage products grew slightly less, recording 23 per cent growth in the fourth quarter compared with 28 per cent in Q3. Ores and precious stones saw growth of 10 per cent in Q4, down from 13 per cent in Q3 and 40 per cent in Q2, mainly due to persistently decreasing iron ore prices.
Asian and African exports of industrial inputs to supply chains increased by more than 24 per cent year on year in Q4, while European exports of inputs grew by 18 per cent. North America's IG exports grew by 14.5 per cent, largely driven by exports of soybeans to China. However, South and Central America saw IG exports decrease by 12 per cent, mainly due to a reduction in Brazilian exports of iron ores and soybeans to China.
China continued to be the top IG exporter in Q4 in terms of value, exporting products with a value of US$ 418 billion. Among the top 15 IG exporters in Q4 2021, the highest growth was recorded by Belgium (39 per cent) and the United Kingdom (34 per cent). Malaysia joined the list of the top 15, registering year-on-year growth of 28 per cent, with three-quarters of its domestically produced inputs shipped to Asian partners. Top IG importers in Q4 in terms of value were China (US$ 439 billion) and the United States (US$ 268 billion). Among the top 15 IG importers, the highest growth (42 per cent) was recorded by India.
North America intensified its exports to Africa by 43 per cent year on year in Q4, with its exports of soybeans increasing twentyfold and vaccines fourfold. Africa's exports to Asia continued their rapid rise, growing by 45 per cent in Q4.
The fourth quarter information note on trade in intermediate goods is available here. It includes appendix tables with data starting from the first quarter of 2019.