The international trade in beer is expected to increase significantly over the medium term future say leading beverage industry analysts Canadean in their annual Global Beer Report.

Seven of the world's top ten importing markets will see their trade expanding in the period to 2007, with the biggest, the US, looking forward to an increase of around 15%. At the same time the world's top ten exporting nations will see their overseas business rise by around a fifth, with the trend being led by Mexico and Germany who could experience growth rates of 36 and 40% respectively, say Canadean.

The report indicates that overall world beer consumption could be up more than 12% on current levels in five years time. The fastest growing regions are said to be Asia Pacific, Middle East and Central Asia, although growth here will be on the basis of volumes smaller than those of Europe and the US.

Looking at individual markets, the report says that Mexico, which is the seventh largest consumer in the world, has a relatively low per capita consumption and a market dominated by a duopoly of brewers. Although exports are also expected to increase in Germany, last year saw overall sales figures fall victim to the domestic trend of 'healthy drinking'. This compounded the problems of the brewing industry, which although enjoying a relatively high per capita consumption, is already afflicted with over capacity.

By contrast China, which is expected to overtake the US as the world's largest beer market in 2002 and is forecast to account for almost one fifth of global sales by 2007, has negligible imports and exports, a situation which is seen as unlikely to change. Meanwhile the US can take solace from the fact that although it has now been forced down to the position of the world's number two beer consumer, it is the American company, Anheuser Busch which ranks number one in the Canadean list of the world's top 20 brewers. The company has market share twice that of its nearest competitor and last year produced around 12% of the world's beer.

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