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History of Exports by Economic Superpowers

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History of Exports by Economic Superpowers

Historically, the biggest economies in the world have also been those that dominate international trade overseas.

This visualization uses data from the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) and the World Trade Organization to show how global export shares by value have changed over the last 150 years for some of the world’s top powers.

Merchandise Exports Share 1870-2022

During the 19th century, Britain was the world’s richest and most advanced economy. The economy was the most industrialized globally, with one-third of the population employed in manufacturing.

As a result, the UK’s finished goods were produced so efficiently and cheaply that they were widely traded worldwide, and were easily found in almost any other market.

Additionally, the British Empire benefited from its colonies, with India representing 42% of its exports by the end of the century.

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