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Rome, Jun 11 2020. FAO releases today the update of the FAOSTAT Pesticides Trade database. It contains data on internationally traded pesticides over the period 1961-2018.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Global pesticide trade reached approximately 6 million tonnes in 2018, with a value of 38 billion USD.
  • Asia and Europe were responsible for over 80% of global pesticides trade in the period 2010-2018.  Whereas Asia and Europe exported comparable quantities  of pesticides products (since 2016), Europe continues to lead in terms of high-value exports.
  • The top five countries exporting hazardous pesticides in 2018 were Thailand, South Africa, the United States of America, Malaysia, and Nigeria, with values ranging 10-30 million USD.  Of these, Nigeria and Thailand were the only countries to see their exports increase over the period 2007-2018.

BACKGROUND

Statistics of pesticides trade are relevant for monitoring of sustainable agriculture. In particular, they can help assess the global movement of pesticides and identify issues in access to the global market of this key agricultural input. The FAOSTAT Pesticides Trade database contains data on internationally traded pesticides over the period 1961-2018. Data for the period 1961-1989 cover only monetary values, while data for the period 1990-2018 also include physical quantities.

In addition, the database covers trade (2007-2018) in the thirty-five chemicals that are listed as ‘’hazardous pesticides’’ under the Rotterdam Convention. The latter stipulates modalities for monitoring and reporting of their trade among parties. We refer to these simply as ‘’hazardous pesticides,’’ noting nonetheless that the Rotterdam Convention regulates only a subset of all possible hazardous substances used in agriculture. 

The domain contains information for 214 countries and territories, albeit coverage for individual pesticides items, including those listed under the Rotterdam Convention, varies significantly by country and is often incomplete, due in part to non reporters. Conversely, the item ‘’total pesticides” has a complete coverage (average of 206 countries and territories regularly reporting data each year, over the period 1990-2018). Furthermore, the domain contains information on total trade in ‘’hazardous pesticides’’ for 174 countries and territories—including 140 out of the 161 parties to the Rotterdam Convention—with good coverage (average of 136 countries and territories per year, over the period 2007-2018).

The 2020 update of the domain features significantly improved times series in traded quantities, with complete statistics of total pesticides quantities and improved information on specific pesticides groups (e.g., insecticides, herbicides, fungicides etc.).

This analysis focuses on international trade flows of pesticides for the period 1990-2018 and in particular of total pesticides, for which both monetary and physical trade statistics are available for the first time. Additional information for hazardous pesticides is provided at country level over the period 2007-2018.

 

 

 

GLOBAL

At the global level, total pesticides trade reached approximately 5.9 million tonnes in 2018, with a value of 37.6 billion USD. 

Reported trade in hazardous pesticides monitored under the Rotterdam Convention was valued in 2018  at 357 million USD. 

Total traded quantities of pesticides increased three-fold in the 2010s as compared to the 1990s. Conversely, the global trade of hazardous pesticides, monitored under the Rotterdam Convention, decreased substantially during the period 2007-2018.

REGIONAL

European countries traded nearly 1.8 million tonnes of pesticides per year during the period 1990-2018, representing more than 1/3 of the global share (Fig. 1).

Since about 2016 Asia became an equally important exporter, reflecting the high economic growth in this region. Pesticides exports increased by 2.5 fold in the Asia region in the period 2011-2018 compared to 2001-2010.  This trend was driven mainly by China, which was responsible for almost two-thirds of pesticides exports from Asia in 2018. Asia nonetheless remained below Europe in terms of total export value, reflecting the high-quality pesticides produced under the EU Common Agricultural Policy and exported worldwide.

The Americas were the third largest exporter of pesticides (averaging approximately 830,000 tonnes in the 2010s, or 16% of the global share) and second in terms of imports (averaging appoximately 1.3 million tonnes per year in the 2010s or 25% of the global share). 

Conversely, Africa and Oceania had the highest growth rates in pesticides imports during the same period.

 

 

 

Figure 1. Regional Imports and Exports of Pesticides Total amounts, 1990-2018

    

A chord diagram is shown below to facilitate the visualization of trade flows originating from countries within a region and the shares to and from other regions (Fig. 2).  Trade of pesticides in Europe was mostly intra-regional, i.e. flows originated and terminated largely within European countries, although export of pesticides to non-European countries was also significant.  Conversely, Africa and Oceania relied heavily on pesticides imports from Asia, representing well over two-thirds of total trade.  The Americas depended on a mix of intra-regional trade as well as inter-regional imports from Asia and Europe.

Figure 2. Chord diagram of regional pesticide trade (tonnes) in 2018, using COMTRADE data.

   

COUNTRY

The top five countries for total pesticides imports in 2018 were Brazil, France, Germany, Canada, and the United States of America, with trade values ranging 1.4-3.0 billion USD. In these countries imported quantities roughly doubled during the period 1990-2018, and a bit less in France (+ 46%). 

The top five exporting countries in 2018 were China, Germany, the United States of America, France and India, with values ranging 3.0-5.5 billion USD. Exported quantities also nearly doubled in these countries during the period 1990-2018; the lowest though still significant increase was for the USA (+69%).

With regards to the thirty-five hazardous pesticides covered under the Rotterdam Convention, the top five importing countries in 2018 were Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Costa Rica, with values ranging 20-80 million USD.  Imports decreased during 2007-2018 in all these countries, with the exception of Myanmar, which is not a signatory to the Convention

The top five countries exporting hazardous pesticides in 2018 were Thailand, South Africa, the United States of America, Malaysia, and Nigeria, with values ranging 10-30 million USD.  Of these, Nigeria and Thailand were the only countries to see their exports increase over the period 2007-2018.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES

The FAOSTAT Pesticides Trade domain contains information on pesticides traded in finished formulations and/or packaged products. It furthermore includes available information of the trade of the thirty-five  pesticides  listed in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention.

The domain contains information for 214 countries and territories, albeit coverage for individual pesticides items, including those listed under the Rotterdam Convention, varies significantly by country and is often incomplete, due in part to non reporters. Conversely, the item ‘’total pesticides” has a complete coverage (average of 206 countries and territories regularly reporting data each year, over the period 1990-2018). Furthermore, the domain contains information on total trade in ‘’hazardous pesticides’’ for 174 countries and territories—including 140 out of the 161 parties to the Rotterdam Convention—with good coverage (average of 136 countries and territories per year, over the period 2007-2018).

Specifically, the domain contains information on the trade of pesticides classified under code 38.08 of the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS), including: total pesticides, insecticides; fungicides; herbicides; disinfectants; and others, with time series 1961-2018. Information of the trade of ‘’hazardous pesticides’’ also reflects available HS codes, covered under COMTRADE with time series starting 2007-2018; DDT (clofenotane (INN)) and antimalarial insecticides, with time series 2017-2018 (see Tab. 1).

The primary source of data used in this analysis is the UN COMTRADE database. A more detailed decription of data sources for the entire domain is availbale in the complete metadata sheet available in FAOSTAT. Over the period of study, information is supplemented where possible with data sourced from official publications of national statistical authorities. For the period 1990 – 2018, an imputation methodology, also available in FAOSTAT, is applied to gap-fill the imports and exports of Pesticides Total (FAOSTAT  item code 1357). To this end, imputation of traded quantities by country and year is performed by using the corresponding trade values (from UN COMTRADE), divided by average unit values computed at sub-regional, regional, or global level, as available. 

 

REFERENCES

FAO, 2020. The FAOSTAT Pesticides Trade Domain. Available at: http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/RT. FAO, Rome, Italy.

UN Comtrade (2020). https://comtrade.un.org/

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade, http://www.pic.int/; and http://www.pic.int/Countries/Statusofratifications/tabid/1072/

Methodology Guide for UN Comtrade User on UN Comtrade Upgrade. 201https://comtrade.un.org/data/MethodologyGuideforComtradePlus.pdf

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This analytical brief was prepared by Nathan Wanner, Francesco N Tubiello and Giorgia DeSantis of the Statistics Division, with inputs from Christine Fuell and Baogen Gu of the Plant  Production and Protection Division, FAO.

Suggested citation: Wanner, N., Tubiello, F.N.,DeSantis, G., Fuell, C. and Gu, B. 2020. Pesticides Trade 1990 - 2018. Global, regional and country trends. FAOSTAT Analytical Brief Series. FAO, Rome, Italy (forthcoming)

The Rotterdam Convention