A survey of banks has revealed that growth in global trade fell by 2.3% in 2012, from 6.1% to 3.8%.

Among respondents to the ICC’s Rethinking Trade & Finance 2013, the total value of trade finance credit lines grew by 68% in 2012. The ICC describes the figure only as “mildly encouraging” given that it’s 12% down on 2011’s 80% figure.

The survey polled 260 banks in 112 countries and found that developing countries have, contrary to expectations, been propping up global trade, with their share of the global pie increasing by 10% since 2000.

The ongoing eurozone strife had a big effect on figures with intra-European trade having a big drag, whereas the BRIC economies also experienced slowdowns, relatively speaking. Meanwhile, across the world we saw political tensions have a negative effect on trade, most notably between China and Japan and in the Middle East.

Developing countries experienced growth in exports of 8.5% in 2012 and their share of the market has been growing twice as quickly as pre-crisis levels.

Thierry Senechal, executive director and senior policy manager of the ICC’s Banking Commission, tells GTR that the relative shift in trading power from the developed to the developing world couldn’t have been predicted a few years ago. He describes what’s emerged as a “two-speed trading system”.

“A few years ago, everyone believed the BRICs would be the ones pulling all the countries through, but that’s not the case. You see that these countries were growing at over 10% and now it’s not the case. China is growing 7%, Russia at 4% and India at 4%. The difference is that other countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Ghana are getting in better shape. This pattern‘s not what we expected a few years ago but it’s clearly coming on.”

Senechal expects the trend to continue and also singles out Chile, Colombia and Ethiopia as countries to watch. He warns, however, of the volatility of certain countries’ exports portfolio. Ghana, for instance, is heavily dependent on the capricious diamond market, whereas the oil market dominates Nigeria’s economy.