WTO quarterly trade growth indicator remains at nine-year low

The World Trade Organization’s quarterly outlook indicator showed that global goods trade growth was likely to remain weak, with a reading of 96.3, unchanged from February, the lowest since 2010.

“The outlook for trade could worsen further if heightened trade tensions are not resolved or if macroeconomic policy fails to adjust to changing circumstances,” the WTO said, adding that the latest indicator did not reflect major trade moves in the last few days.

A score of below 100 in the indicator, a composite measure of seven drivers of trade, signals below-trend growth in global goods trade, which the WTO’s April forecast estimated at 2.6 per cent this year, the mid-point of a forecast range from 1.3 per cent to 4.0 per cent.

As per the indicator, indices for international air freight (92.3), automobile production and sales (92.2), and agricultural raw materials (92.4) fell further below-trend. The index for container port throughput (101.0) also declined but remained above 100, suggesting growth in line with recent trends.

Indices for export orders (96.6) and electronic components (96.7) appear to have bottomed out, even as both remained firmly below-trend. The WTO had last month cut the global trade growth forecast to 2.6% in 2019 from 3% in 2018 on account of rising trade tensions and increased economic uncertainty.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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