Bar chart and statistics of trade balances by country group, 2005 - 2011.The wealthier economies, i.e. High income (HIC), and Upper middle income (UMC) countries achieved positive trade balances and even enjoyed significant improvements of the balance, while the less rich Middle income (MIC) and Low & middle income (LMY) economies, although also achieving positive balances, suffered from a serious balance deterioration. The Middle East & North Africa (developing only) (MNA) region exhibits a performance similar to the latter : a positive but deteriorating balance.The poorer economies, i.e. Low income (LIC) and Lower middle income (LMC), failed to achieve positive trade balances and underwent significant falls of their balances. The Europe & Central Asia (developing only) (ECA) economies are the exception : although with negative balances, they slightly improved them during the period in review.

The BoT (balance of trade ) at the aggregate level for the economy groups according to the World Bank definition show diverging trends for the period extending from 2005 to 2011:

This brief data analysis suggests that the trade policies so aggressively pushed by the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the World Bank, promising fairer and more balanced trade accounts for all and especially for the developing world, actually delivered instead more unbalanced accounts, with higher surpluses in favor of the wealthier, and deeper deficits for the poorer economies. The only exceptions among the developing economies seem to be the oil and gas rich countries of the Middle East & North Africa, and the Europe & Central Asia regions.

There is a strong implication that the deck is stacked against the weaker — as trade is promoted and enhanced, high income economies collect bigger benefits, while the low income countries watch their economies get crippled as a result of trade balance crashes. This is a reality to which policy makers in the less favored countries, if they were genuinely committed to the good of their constituents, should rise without delay, lest the trade gap becomes insurmountable.


Goods and services Trade Balance
by Country Group
2005 - 2011

Country Group




Balance of Trade

$US bil current$US bil constant ¹$US bil current$US bil constant ¹$US bil current$US bil constant ¹$US bil current$US bil constant ¹$US bil constant ¹
Low incomeLIC56611311277885208201-24-74
Middle incomeMIC2,8133,0586,1055,9162,6322,8615,9965,810197105
Lower middle incomeLMC5896401,3221,2816366911,5161,469-51-188
Upper middle incomeUMC2,2232,4164,7814,6321,9952,1694,4774,339247294
Low & middle incomeLMY2,8683,1186,2316,0382,7092,9456,1966,00417334
East Asia & Pacific (developing only)EAP1,2441,3522,9282,8381,0961,1912,6972,613160224
Europe & Central Asia (developing only)ECA349379738715389423778754-44-40
Latin America & Caribbean (developing only)LAC5836341,1081,0735405871,1281,09347-20
Middle East & North Africa (developing only)MNA2763004684532342554454314622
South Asia (there are no economies in South Asia classified as high income)SAS195212517501243264669648-52-147
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)SSA23325345544121523447445919-18
High incomeHIC9,93310,79815,93915,4459,87910,74015,41314,93559510
Euro areaEMU3,7434,0695,6985,5213,5863,8985,4915,321171200
¹ Real US dollars, 2009=100.


Sources: World DataBank and BEA.



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