In billions of dollars and in % of all exports.
Source: WTO
International Trade of Merchandises, 2003-2013
The recent decades have seen important changes in international trade flows. A growing share of international trade occurs within regions (and particularly economic blocs) even if long distance trade has increased in absolute numbers. Significant trade flows are between Asia and North America (especially the United States), between Europe and North America and between Europe and Asia. For several reasons, such as geographical proximity (Eastern Europe), energy (Middle East) and colonial legacy (Africa), the European Union has significant trading linkages with other pars of the world (not shown on the above figure). North America, also maintains important trade linkages with Latin America (not shown). Another important characteristic of the contemporary commercial setting concerns imbalances in trade flows. For instance, Asia exports more than it imports and that North America imports more than it exports.
Three major poles account for the majority of the global trade, about 83% of all exports in 2013. Most of this trade is however regional in scale, particularly within the Europe where close to 69% of all exports are taking place within the region, up from 62% in 2003. This is also the case for Asia, which has seen the share of regional trade slightly increase to about 53% (from 50%) in spite of the high level of export dependency of many of its economies. All of the above is underlining a growing regionalization of trade relations.