In a global market with free trade, it is common to see very specialised economies, each producing specific goods based on competitive advantages, incentives and available resources.
Simplifying world trade
On the VisualCapitalist website, you can see a very interesting infographic that helps us to have a notion of this specialization, observing the main exports from all countries in the world. It is a simple but revealing way to see which countries are bigger in producing each product.
To begin with, here is a list of countries, based on the main export categories:
Note: The data set is from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (2015)
At a high level, it is clear that the vast majority of exports are derived from natural resources. Fuels, metals, minerals and organic products make up more than half of all major exports. Meanwhile, food and products, which include commodities such as sugar, coffee, fish and soy, could also be classified in this way - and they represent 18.7% of the main exports.
Viewing specific regions based on this concept may also provide some information.
It gives us a sense of how developed the economies are in a particular area - and also shows what resources are abundant and demanding from these regions.
Oil is big business in the Middle East. There are some exceptions: Israel's main exports are diamonds, Jordan is fertilizer and Lebanon specializes in jewelry. The most recent data from war-torn Syria show spice seeds in the main exports.
Meanwhile, Europe is home to many developed economies, focused on value-added goods, many of them in the transport sector. Cars are the main export to nine countries here, and vehicle parts are also the main export to other places, such as Poland or Romania.
Curiously, France stands out here, with its main exports related to the aerospace sector.
If we look at Asia, we will also see some interesting contrasts.
South Korea specializes in integrated circuits, while its northern neighbors sell coal briquettes (mainly to China) as one of their main exports. It can also be surprising to see economies such as Thailand and Vietnam having the main exports, such as computers and transmission equipment.
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