Merchandise trade has fallen sharply in the eurozone, while the US and China have maintained strong trade volumes, according to the OECD’s international trade statistics.

Total imports of the G7 and Brics countries fell by 0.2% in Q4 2011 − an improvement from the 0.7% fall recorded in Q3. Exports were down by 1.2% compared to a 0.9% increase in the previous quarter.

According to the OECD report, exports and imports fell in Germany by 4% and 5.9% respectively, while France fell by 3.9% and 4.1%, and Italy by 3.1% and 6.9%.

Merchandise trade fell sharply in all major eurozone economies, with both exports and imports back to the levels seen at the beginning of 2011. Merchandise trade in the UK fell by 1.9% and exports only marginally increased by 0.3%.

Meanwhile, US imports rose by 1.8% and by 4.7% in China, although exports contracted in both economies for the first time since the second quarter of 2009. Imports grew marginally in Canada but exports also contracted.

In Japan, exports fell 5% compared with the 7.8% growth seen in the previous quarter which was partly due to a technical rebound after the earthquake. Import growth slowed to 1.2%.

Imports and exports also fell in India and South Africa but grew in Russia and Brazil, the OECD reports.