Crude oil, computers, cars and copper.
There may be 25 other letters in the alphabet but not many commodities and goods more important than these C-words in the high-stakes balancing act that is world trade.
On the winning side are 36 economies expected to see surpluses in their current accounts, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, according to recent Bloomberg News surveys covering 75 countries and territories.
Wealthy energy exporters Kuwait and Norway are near the head of the pack, despite falling oil prices, and are expected to post surpluses of at least 10 percent of gross domestic product in 2015. In contrast, Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude-oil exporter, will see its surplus go from an IMF-estimated 15 percent of GDP in 2014 to less than 1 percent this year.
Western Europe is doing quite well in the current-account stakes, accounting for eight of the 15 largest excesses in our ranking (see above), including the Netherlands, Denmark and the world’s No. 3 exporter, Germany.
A strengthening Swiss franc means watch-giant Switzerland can say goodbye to the double-digit club, with economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecasting a surplus of 8.3 percent of GDP. Ireland is expected to post its largest excess since joining the euro area — at around 5.5 percent of GDP — thanks in part to robust pharmaceutical exports. Euro neighbor Slovenia will squeak in just above Ireland, at 5.8 percent.
Asia’s low labor costs continue to give its exporters an edge, with 11 of 13 of the region’s economies tracked by Bloomberg expected to sell more abroad this year than what they import. Singapore leads the overall ranking with a surplus of almost 20 percent of GDP, followed by third-best Taiwan at 11 percent and South Korea in ninth place at 7 percent.
South Korea recently posted a record trade surplus in February, breaking its previous high set in October. Exports of its cars and electronics have roughly doubled since the depths of the global financial crisis.
Stay tuned for global trade’s biggest losers this year, including the world’s largest coffee exporter and a nation where sheep outnumber people.
©2015 Bloomberg News