By  on March 29, 2010

GENEVA — The volume of world trade in goods is projected to expand 9.5 percent this year, marking a sharp rebound from last year’s 12.2 percent decline — the biggest since World War II, Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization, said Friday.

Lamy said WTO economists are forecasting developing countries’ trade in goods will grow 11 percent and industrialized countries’ trade will increase 7.5 percent. He said dynamic Asian economies, led by China, are expected to spearhead the upturn in trade.

While Lamy said this is a good forecast for the recovery of the world economy, he cautioned: “We must avoid derailing any economic revival through protectionism.” The WTO report, “World Trade 2009, Prospects for 2010,” notes it could take another similar pace of growth next year for trade volumes to surpass the peak levels of 2008.

But Patrick Low, WTO chief economist, argued there was a downside risk to the outlook, such as the possibility of price hikes and more volatility in commodity markets, fluctuations of major currencies and additional adverse development in global financial markets.

Lamy also noted that high unemployment rates, especially in rich nations, posed a risk, if the levels do not come down.

In 2009, the report outlines that the contraction in the value of trade in goods declined 23 percent to $12.1 trillion, while the value of commercial services contracted by 13 percent to $3.3 trillion.

China overtook Germany last year as the world’s largest exporter, with $1.2 trillion in merchandise shipments, a 16 percent decline from 2008. Germany’s exports were down 22 percent to $1.1 trillion, followed by the U.S., with exports down 18 percent to $1.06 trillion.

The U.S. remained the world’s top importer, with inbound shipments down 26 percent to $1.6 trillion, followed by China with $1 trillion in imports, a drop of 11 percent from 2008.

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