Source: WTO.
Share of Asia in the Value of World Trade, 1980-2012
Trade reflects well the commercial geography. Since the 1980s, the contribution of Asia to global trade has increased substantially, notably for its exports. From about 16% of the value of global exports in 1980, this share climbed to about 33% in 2012. This trend can partially be explained by substantial investments that went into new export-oriented manufacturing facilities using the advantages of low production costs, notably in terms of labor. The gap between exports and imports have also substantially increased after 1997 when currency devaluations made the region more competitive. Yet, as development takes place, Asian economies are consuming increasing amounts of resources and finished goods. From 2008, the gap between the value of exports and imports has substantially narrowed.