World Trade, 1996-2000

World-Trade-1996-2000-02The current map of the month shows evidence about the extent of globalisation and the influence of the EU in the world by focusing on some aspects of trade international flows. The aim is to improve understanding on territorial potentials of Europe and its regions that are important for the development of the European economy in global networks. In 1996-2000, global trade relations indicate that Europe remains a major player in the global trade system.


The map shows the bilateral international trade flows for the period 1996-2000. The indicators mapped are: (1) share of world bilateral trade by each state and by the EU and (2) intensity of international flows. These indicators allow to evaluate the geography of the world trade relations and the position of Europe in the global territorial context. The size of the circles indicates the share of world bilateral trade by each state (EU27 is considered as a whole). The international flows, represented through the green lines, emphasise the main trade flows.


Some of the major international institutions consider the development of globalisation and the increase of trade relations as a worldwide opportunity. However, increasing globalisation has also stimulated hierarchies and imbalances. The distribution of the world bilateral trade reveals a spatial pattern where the poles of the Triad (Western Europe, North America, and East Asia) are strongly interconnected in interdependent relations. Whilst the centres of the Triad mostly trade amongst themselves, the relations established between the Triad and the periphery clearly shows a dominant situation of the Triad both in relation to international trade flows and share of world bilateral trade.

The European Union (EU) plays a key role in the global trade system but its real influence is more or less important depending on the statistical criteria used. In 1996-2000, EU27 plus Switzerland and Norway accounted for 37% of the world international bilateral trade flows. However, only for 17% if internal trade amongst these countries is excluded.


Trade remains a major factor of influence of the EU in the world. From the point of view of trade flows the concept “centre-periphery” only assumes its meaning in the context of the relations between the three poles of the Triad and their peripheries. The map of the month points to the conclusion that the dominant international trade flows take place amongst regional blocs (Western Europe, North America, and East Asia) and present the view that in the global context trade is more of a regional phenomenon than a global one.

Further reading: Europe in the World Report



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