India, China and South Africa have fared "relatively better" than other major economies in imports and exports in the first quarter of this year, according to the UN data which said that global trade recovery from the COVID-19 crisis hit a record high during the same period. The Global Trade Update by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that in Q1 2021, the value of global trade in goods and services grew by about 4 per cent quarter-over-quarter and by about 10 per cent year-over-year.


  1. Importantly, global trade in Q1 2021 was higher than pre-crisis levels, with an increase of about 3 per cent relative to Q1 2019.
  2. In Q1 2021, the value of trade in goods was higher than pre-pandemic level, but trade in services remains substantially below averages. During the first quarter of 2021, global trade of COVID-19 related products remained strong.
  3. The UNCTAD data said that import and export trends for some of the world's major trading economies further illustrate the recovery patterns of Q1 2021. With a few exceptions, trade in major economies recovered from the fall of 2020.
  4. China, India and South Africa have fared relatively better than other major economies during Q1 2021.
  5. China's exports, in particular, registered a strong increase not only from 2020 averages but also in relation to pre-pandemic levels. In contrast, exports from the Russian Federation remained well below 2019 averages.
  6. The data for India said that import of goods grew 45 per cent in Q1 2021 relative to the 2020 average while services imports were up 14 per cent. Export of goods for India grew 26 per cent for the period under review while services exports grew 2 per cent.
  7. The International Monetary Fund last month said that the global recovery is expected to be asynchronous and divergent between advanced and emerging market economies.


  1. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), permanent organ of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
  2. It was established in 1964 to promote trade, investment, and development in developing countries, Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  3. The highest policy-making body of UNCTAD is the Conference, which meets once every four years to set policy guidelines and to formulate a program of work.