Global trade falls 0.3% in Q4: WTO, Latest Business News - The New Paper

Global trade falls 0.3% in Q4: WTO

This article is more than 12 months old

GENEVA: World trade shrank by 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018 and is likely to grow by 2.6 per cent this year, slower than the 3 per cent growth in 2018 and below a previous forecast of 3.7 per cent, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said yesterday.

In its annual forecast, WTO said trade had been weighed down by new tariffs and retaliatory measures, weaker economic growth, volatility in financial markets and tighter monetary conditions in developed countries. It had forecast in September that 2018 growth would be 3.9 per cent, down from 4.6 per cent in 2017.

"With trade tensions running high, no one should be surprised by this outlook. Trade cannot play its full role in driving growth when we see such high levels of uncertainty," WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said in a statement. "Of course, there are other elements at play, but rising trade tensions are the major factor. I think it's pretty obvious that the tensions between the US and China play a big role."

He declined to predict the impact of Brexit.

Although the volume of trade grew slowly in 2018, the dollar value rose 10 per cent to US$19.48 trillion (S$26.4 trillion), the WTO said.

The value of commercial services trade grew by 8 per cent to US$5.8 trillion in 2018, driven by strong import growth in Asia.

Goods trade volumes are expected to grow more strongly in developing economies this year. - REUTERS