Global commerce is being reshaped in favour of emerging powers like China and other developing nations, with the trend set to continue apace, the World Trade Organization said Thursday.
"The world is changing rapidly, hence the world of trade is changing rapidly," WTO chief Pascal Lamy said as he released the Geneva-based body's annual report.
The study showed that between 1980 and 2011, developing economies raised their share in world exports from just over one third to almost half, and their share of imports by a similar proportion.
"The core trend that comes out of this pretty clearly is how new players have risen to prominence," said Patrick Low, chief economist at the WTO.
The report forecast that developing countries could outpace developed economies in terms of both export and gross domestic product growth by a factor of two to three over the next two decades.
"It's the emerging economies which have the show," said Danny Quah, a professor from the London School of Economics, at the report's launch.
"The world economy has been (centred on the) mid-Atlantic for the past 200 years... The rise of the east is pulling the world's economic centre," he added.
The report underlined the factors driving the shifts, including a growing middle class in developing countries and the investment clout of emerging powers.
It also pointed to rapid technological advances which have continued to bring down transport and communication costs, and global supply chains, which have linked economies like never before.
"We have to think, perhaps, about a world which is devoid of national boundaries," said Quah.
The report also highlighted the potential impact of the United States' drive to tap its shale gas resources, which comes as rising energy demand from emerging nations raises competition.
"The shale gas revolution portends dramatic shifts in the future pattern of energy production and trade as North America becomes energy sufficient," it said.