Asia's share in the global value of goods exports has continued to rise in recent decades. According to data by the World Trade Organization, the continent has now almost caught up with Europe when it comes to the export of goods. Both regions held a share of around 36-37 percent of global exports in 2021.
Europe was the foremost exporter among world regions and continents throughout the second half of the 20th century. By the early 1980s, Asia's share in global exports was less than 20 percent, but eventually rose to 36.3 percent by 2021. This is only 0.6 percentage points below Europe’s share, currently at 36.9 percent. Given the recent dynamic, Asia could overtake Europe as the biggest exporter of goods in 2022. Competition from North America is unlikely for the time being, as this region's share has been declining since the mid-1990s.
The increasing shift in world trade towards the Asian economies of China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan is also reflected in the development of the shipping markets. For example, ports in Asia are increasingly dominating the top field of the largest ports in terms of container throughput. The same applies to the area of cargo airports: seven of the ten largest airports in terms of cargo handling are now located in the Asia-Pacific region.