The Global State of Trade: ITC’s Monthly Brief

5 Jun 2024


Small Island Developing States GraphicEnhancing SIDS Trade

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are low-lying coastal countries located in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea (AIS). Their small size, insularity and exposure to climate change make them vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks with potentially severe consequences for their sustainable development. Together with a general lack of natural resources, these challenges make it difficult for SIDS to achieve economies of scale and diversify their economies. Trade and trade infrastructure can therefore enable them to surpass these constraints by accessing broader markets. Reliable and comprehensive trade-related data is crucial for SIDS to better understand trade patterns and market demands, identify new opportunities, optimize their export strategies, and enhance their economic resilience.

Acknowledging the critical role that trade data plays for SIDS, ITC is launching the SIDS Trade Tracker, a free and easy-to-use platform. The tool illustrates some of the challenges SIDS continue to face, but it also showcases their opportunities for export growth.

Empowering SIDS through enhanced trade data

Despite the significant challenges faced by SIDS, there are considerable opportunities for growth and possibly diversification. In keeping with the mandate of ABAS, the new SIDS Trade Tracker is designed to help address these challenges by offering comprehensive and accessible trade data. This innovative tool will enable SIDS to identify trends, discover new market opportunities, and optimize their export strategies. By leveraging these insights SIDS can harness their full potential and enhance their economic resilience.

Export concentration and travel dependence

Their small market size, geographic isolation, and limited availability of natural resources often hinder SIDS’ efforts to diversify their economies, keeping their exports concentrated in a limited set of products.

Between 2017 and 2022, SIDS1 exported on average 1,146 distinct products, while other developing and developed countries exported more than twice as many products during the same period.2 Not only did SIDS export less products, but their export revenues also concentrated in few of those: during this period, SIDS exported on average 9 equivalent products, other developing countries 20 and developed countries 41.3

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