|If international trade does well overall, then the world economy will remain stable. In an ideal world, a booming economy means that countries have goods to sell and countries with which they are able to trade their produce or products. There are a number of dominant countries in the world with regards to the proportion of world trade they execute each year. These countries are all maritime strongholds, that is they have good access to the world's oceans and the major shipping lanes within them. This is key to successful trade as cargo ships are responsible for carrying bulk loads of goods from country to country or continent.|
In terms of size, the major trading nations are USA, Germany, Japan, France and the United Kingdom. The USA is responsible for more than 10% of the total world export trade. Trade balance is the value of exports in proportion to the value of imports. The overall balance should in theory be zero, however US$100 billion in exports goes astray every year. This leaves a huge deficit in world trade. Many countries have higher exports than imports or vice versa and this is not a true indicator of the wealth of a country. With the largest trade countries, just a small percentage of the economy and wealth of the country is affected by either imports or exports. In the developing world, trade often accounts for 50% or more of the GDP.
The most traded products are machinery and transportation equipment, office and telephone supplies, mining products, automotive products, agricultural products and chemicals. In fact, machinery and transportation equipment account for 18% of the total traded products of the world. Panama, Malta and Liberia have the largest merchant fleets in terms of tonnage. Oil tankers and ore and bulk carriers represent more than half of the total world merchant fleet in relation to tonnage. Kuwait and Liechtenstein have the highest value per capita exports and the majority of the African nations have the lowest. Singapore and Rotterdam have the largest freight ports in the world although Japan has a handful of large ports that follow closely behind in terms of total cargo traffic.