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World Trade

Updated on July 6, 2011

Introduction to World Trade

I have always been interested in the global transportation and trade in goods. I'm not sure why, but it has always held a fascination - it is also something I do for a day job! Pretty much everything from coal to rice, from live pigs to timber gets tansported around the world and some commodities are highly prized in our society.

In the next few capsules I am going to look into some randomly selected commodities a bit more closely, which countries are importing these products, and which are supplying them globally. I will also attempt to look at the prices these goods are traded at.

I have no idea if this will interest any readers at all but I think I will enjoy researching this and if someone finds it an interesting read then great! Oh, and if anyone has a commodity they would like me to look into, please let me know and I will see what I can do.


I'm not sure how I settled on Vanilla but this is my first product to look into but I had to start somewhere! Vanilla is extracted from an Orchid native to Central America. It is commonly used as a flavouring in food, and also used in cosmetics and aromatherapy, it is thought to help with fever and also considered by some to be an aphrodisiac.

Vanilla production is centered around three countries:

Madagascar, 6,200 tonnes (58% of world production)

Indonesia, 2,400 tonnes (23% of world production)

China, 1,000 tonnes (9% of world production)

These above figures are annual for 2006. We can see then, that Madagascar accounts for over half of the world production in 2006. Looking at the world exports, who is exporting Vanilla?

Exports for 2010 by country

1. Madagascar 2,933T at $26 per Kilo (up 33% on 2009)

2. France 613T at $27 per Kilo (down 6%)

3. Indonesia 342T at $13 per Kilo (down 15%)

4. India 332T at $20 per Kilo (down 53%)

5. Germany 308T at $20 per Kilo (down 4%)

6. Uganda 271T at $18 per Kilo (up 33%)

I was only going to include the top five exporters but felt that Uganda at number 6 was an interesting exporter, given that the figure is going up whereas most of the rest of the world seems to be reducing. Also, it can be seen that two countries on the list do not have the climate condusive to farming Vanilla - France and Germany. In order to discover what is going on here, I am going to look at the world imports.

Imports for 2010 by Country

1. USA 1,781T at $21 per Kilo (no change on 2009)

2. France 1,165T at $21 per Kilo (24% up )

3. UK 793T at $6 per Kilo (59% down)

4. Germany 683T at $26 per Kilo (29% up)

5. Canada 552T at $15 per Kilo (3% down)

These figures show that the exports seen for France and Germany are in fact re-exports of these imports shown above.

France imports from Madagascar, Uganda, Comoros and PNG, then re-exports them to Netherlands, Denmark, UK, USA and Japan. Germany imports from Madagascar, India, Uganda, Comoros and Indonesia, then re-exports them to the EU, Switzerland and the US.

Well, I hope that has been interesting to someone, I'm off to think about what to research next....

Vanilla Beans


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