World Trade to Grow 4.7% in 2014

The increase is spurred by a firming up of the economic recovery in the U.S. and Europe and continued growth in emerging Asian economies.

GENEVA — World trade volume in goods is forecast to grow 4.7 percent this year, up on last year’s weak 2.1 percent increase, spurred by a firming up of the economic recovery in the U.S. and Europe and continued growth in emerging Asian economies, the World Trade Organization said Monday.

“We expect a broad-based but modest upturn in 2014 and further consolidation of this growth in 2015,” said Roberto Azevêdo, WTO director-general.

Azevêdo said the WTO expects world trade to expand 5.3 percent in 2015, in line with the 20-year average. But the WTO chief stressed the numbers “represent best estimates,” and acknowledged that geopolitical instabilities and unforeseen elements “could bring these numbers down.”

“Civil conflicts and territorial disputes in the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe could provoke higher energy prices and disrupt trade flows if they escalate,” notes the WTO’s “World Trade in 2013, Prospects for 2014” report.

Senior trade economists at the WTO project Asian economies will lead in the expansion in exports this year, with an increase in volume of 6.9 percent, up on 4.6 percent notched last year, and also projects exports from North America to grow 4.6 percent, up on the previous year increase of 2.8 percent.

Looking at 2013, the value of global trade in goods increased by 2.1 percent to $18.8 trillion, with the world’s top exporter, China, delivering an 8 percent increase in shipments to $2.2 trillion, followed by the U.S., with $1.5 trillion, a 2 percent increase, and Germany with $1.4 trillion, up 3 percent.

Other significant export gains were posted by the U.K., with a 15 percent rise in shipments to $541 billion; Hong Kong, with a 9 percent increase to $536 billion, and Spain, with a 7 percent gain to $316 billion.

In 2013, the U.S. remained the world’s leading importer, with the value of shipments flat at $2.3 trillion, followed by China with a 7 percent increase to $1.9 trillion and Germany with a 2 percent hike to $1.1 trillion.

In apparel trade, WTO estimates and statistical data reveal that major Asian exporters, including China, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, posted double-digit gains in the value of export shipments.

Overall, the value of world apparel exports last year grew 4.4 percent to $441 billion from a 3.8 percent decline in 2012. China, the world’s biggest exporter of apparel, reported an 11.2 percent increase to $177.4 billion, Bangladesh a 13.9 percent gain to $22.7 billion, India an 11.5 percent gain to $15.4 billion and Sri Lanka a 12.5 percent increase to $4.5 billion.

Solid gains were also posted by some major European apparel producing and exporting nations, including Italy, which achieved a 7.2 percent increase over the year before to $23.8 billion; Spain, a gain of 15.7 percent to $11.7 billion; France, a 7.5 percent increase to $11.3 billion, and Turkey an increase of 8.1 percent to $15.4 billion.

The U.S. posted an increase of 3 percent to $5.7 billion, and Mexico saw a gain of 1.8 percent to $4.5 billion.

However, the results of other apparel exporting countries in the Americas were mixed, with Colombia and Peru posting declines of 12.5 percent and 14 percent, respectively, while El Salvador registered an increase of 8.1 percent and Guatemala an expansion of 7.2 percent.

In textiles trade, China, India and Turkey all registered double-digit increases in the value of shipments. Overall, the value of world textiles exports in 2013 increased 3.4 percent to $295 billion, up on the previous year’s contraction of 5.5 percent.

China, the top exporter of textiles, reported an 11.7 percent increase in the value of shipments to $106 billion, India posted a gain of 13.3 percent to $17.3 billion and Turkey saw a hike of 10.1 percent to $12.1 billion. In advanced economies, Germany reported an increase of 3 percent to $15.3 billion, Italy a gain of 2 percent to $13.4 billion and the U.S. a 3.8 percent increase to $14 billion.