World Trade Monitor NBEPA

This page is about aggregate world trade in merchandise, as calculated by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. The main questions in 2013 are (1) whether a world trade war is developing, and (2) whether there is any sign in trade of a global recession.


2 Dec 2013.

World trade in goods experienced a sharp drop and rapid recovery in 2008 and following. For the last three years it has resumed a modest but fairly normal rate of growth.

The Netherlands Bureau of Economic Policy Analysis, an independent research institute, calculates a monthly aggregate volume of world trade in merchandise. They start with other available series, particularly from the OECD, but then go to the original sources to update and correct the data. The result is widely used, covers about 97% of world trade, and may be the best available series, at least for a goods-only measure.


2 Dec 2013. Data through Sep 2013.

This is a volume series, adjusted for prices. Values are first calculated in US dollars, and then converted to an index, with the average value in the year 2005 corresponding to an index value of 100. The index is seasonally adjusted.


  • A release archive for the monitor (if this results in an error, then click on the data tab at the top of the page and look through recent news).

See also

Clippings below were used in the construction of this page


20 Apr 2005. Memorandum on methodology.

“Explanatory note on the CPB world trade series”

”[Widely used]

This note provides detailed information on the world trade series used by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in its quarterly projections and analysis of the world economy.1 The series also play a vital role in the projections of the Dutch economy as the forecast of export market growth has a major influence on the overall projection of the Dutch economy in the short term. The trade series are not only presented in the CPB’s quarterly outlook publications but are also presented in the monthly world trade monitor.2 Furthermore, the European Commission is using the CPB data to provide information on world trade in its Quarterly Reports on the Euro Area3, its Key indicators for the euro area4 updated before each Eurogroup meeting of the ECOFIN ministers and its semi-annual forecasts5. Finally, due to CPB - World Bank cooperation, the world trade data presented in the annual Global Economic Prospect reports6 of the World Bank and its internal monthly reports on the world economy closely resemble the CPB world trade series. …

[Thorough coverage]

The CPB world trade database contains foreign trade value series of 23 OECD countries7 and around 60 emerging economies. Those 60 emerging economies cover approximately 90% of foreign trade of all emerging economies. With the almost 85 countries in the database, coverage of total world trade value is around 97%. …

[Sources and adjustments]

The two primary sources used for the value series concerning imports and exports are:

  1. OECD Main Economic Indicators (MEI)
  2. IMF International Financial Statistics (IFS)

These two sources contain data provided by national statistical offices and customs offices. MEI trade series are already seasonally adjusted. The international organisations have done for some of the series the seasonal adjustment and the switch from local currency in US dollars. Almost all MEI trade series are calendar-adjusted.9 All IFS trade series are not seasonally adjusted and not calendar-adjusted. IFS trade series used are seasonally adjusted by us. However, calendar adjustments are not made.

These primary sources are complemented with data directly taken from national sources.10 Moreover, if the two primary sources do not cover the most recent data releases, the series are updated using the information available on the internet-sites of national statistical offices and central banks, the national summary data pages of the IMF’s Dissemination Standard Bulletin Board (DSBB)11 or through Thomson/Datastream (based on releases of national statistical offices and of central banks).

For recent months, information of some of the smaller countries may not be available. If so, value growth of such a country is set equal to that of its own region calculated on the available country information.

[More up-to-date than competing data]

The CPB world trade series provide more up-to-date information than other available series, making it clearly more useful in assessing the current economic situation (nowcasting). With good information on the current economic situation essential for forecasting,35 this up-to-date information enhances the accuracy of the CPB forecasts of the world economy and thus for the Dutch economy.

The CPB series contains up to four months more recent information than the world trade series presented in the OECD Main Economic Indicators (MEI). Moreover, the most recent data are more based on actual data for the non-OECD countries and less on projections and assumptions. A third essential advantage of the CPB world trade database above the MEI is that it contains the underlying series, allowing more detailed analysis of world trade and the calculation of export market growth. A fourth advantage is that the CPB world trade volume series is accompanied by a world trade price series. …

The foreign trade volume series are calculated from the value and price series.”