The Evidence from World Cable Trade Flows

Provided by CRU


Trade Flows provide a Timely but
Incomplete View of the World Market


This newsletter’s analysis article focuses on recent trends in world, regional and product monthly trade flows in insulated copper cables (HS code group 8544xx) and bare aluminium overhead conductors (HS code group 7614xx).  Around 25% of the global insulated wire and cable market is represented by international trade flows, although the proportion of the aluminium overhead conductor market covered by trade flows is less than 10%.  The latter is lower because the product is simpler and often locally produced and consumed according to national or international utility specifications.


Advantages of “Breadth over Depth”


For the insulated wire and cable  market, trade is very representative of underlying business trends in open markets such as Europe, but rather less representative of those markets where domestic demand is primarily met by local production, for example in the United States, Brazil, Russia, Japan, India, Indonesia or China.  But even with these shortcomings, analysing patterns of world insulated wire and cable trade can be a useful window onto market conditions because monthly data is readily available for many of the world’s most important cable producing and consuming nations with only a short time lag of 2-3 months from real world events.  This is much faster, and more comprehensive, than any perspective offered by national association production and shipment data (where this is collated and published) or any analysis of quarterly company financial results.  So the key advantages that trade flow analysis brings are geographic “breadth” and “timeliness”.  However, the main disadvantage is a lack of “depth” on a product or end use market basis.  This is because different countries classify their trade flows in different ways within the 8544 HS code categories, making cross country comparisons impractical apart from in a few select and easily identifiable product lines. 


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