Merchandise Trade

The Hindu Business Line  May 7  Comment 
Baltic Dry Index and World Trade Organization’s indicator signal that 2017 could be a little better than last year
The Economic Times  Apr 13  Comment 
Growth in the volume of world merchandise trade is expected to rebound this year. WTO expects global trade to grow 2.4% in 2017 compared with 1.3% in 2016.
The Hindu Business Line  Aug 4  Comment 
Kerala’s commodities sector reacted cautiously to the possible implications of GST on merchandise trade, saying that they will keenly watch taxation rates under GST. “As tax rates have not been sp...
Wall Street Journal  Jan 19  Comment 
Global trade is in the midst of its worst slowdown in decades, thanks to China’s abrupt manufacturing slowdown and a deep slide in commodity prices, among other things. But deeper problems for merchandise trade have been building for years,...  Jun 4  Comment 
CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - The Australian dollar weakened against the other major currencies in the Asian session on Thursday following the release of disappointing trade and retail sales data for April. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics...
Channel News Asia  May 26  Comment 
On a year-on-year basis, Singapore's total merchandise trade declined by 10.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2015, following the 4.8 per cent decrease in the previous quarter.
The Times of India  Mar 20  Comment 
India's merchandise trade with seven South Asian countries has reached USD 19.21 billion during April-January period of the current fiscal.


Merchandise trade only include trade in goods, not services nor capital transfers and foreign investments. Official merchandise trade statistics measure the level, month-over-month and year-over-year changes in total trades, exports and imports. Balance of merchandise trade is equaled to total exports minus general imports. Exports are defined as total exports which include 1. Domestically produced goods and 2. Re-exports, that are re-exporting of goods which are imported and warehoused in U.S. General imports constitute of imports for immediate consumption channels and warehouses. Merchandise trade is reported in current U.S. dollars with no inflation adjustments.[1] Merchandise trade report is published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census and Foreign Trade Division (FTD).

While merchandise trade can be used as an indicator of the overall health of the U.S economy, one must be cautious and avoid misinterpreting merchandise trade deficit as trade deficits. This is because trade deficit is sometimes used interchangeably with merchandise trade deficit, deficit in goods and services or current account deficit. Deficit in goods and services includes significant U.S. economic services such as tourism, financial services, transportation, and telecommunications. Therefore, it is important to distinguish that merchandise trade only refers to trade in goods whereas trade deficit can also refer to deficit in goods and services or current account deficit. In this case, even if U.S. is running a merchandise trade deficit that does not mean the economy is not doing well because it can be a net importer of goods but a net exporter of services.[2]


  1. CRS Report for Congress: U.S. Merchandise Trade Statistics: 1948 - 2000
  2. Progressive Policy Institute: Putting the U.S. trade deficit in perspective

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