GENEVA — The World Trade Organization on Tuesday revised sharply downwards its forecast for growth in the volume of world trade this year, to 3.1 percent from the 4.7 percent projected in April, on the slowdown of economic activity and muted import demand in emerging nations, especially in Asia and Latin America.
WTO economists also revised downwards trade growth for 2015 to 4 percent, from 5.3 percent forecast earlier.
Roberto Azevêdo, WTO director general, indicated the disappointing economic growth in the first half of the year led the agency to revisit its outlook figures.
Analysts at the Geneva-based body also stressed in the revised report, “risks to the forecast remain predominantly on the downside.”
Similarly Azevêdo said, “Uneven growth and continuing geopolitical tensions will remain a risk for both trade and output in the second half of the year.”
The agency said global trade stagnated in the first half as the gradual recovery of import demand in rich countries “was offset by declines” in emerging developing nations.
The WTO now expects import demand in developing economies to grow by only 2.6 percent in 2014, down from the earlier forecast of 6.3 percent, but for rich countries to grow by 3.4 percent, as initially projected.
Coleman Nee, senior WTO economist, told WWD the U.S. and North America were doing pretty well and the region was by comparison one of the few “bright spots.”
The WTO estimates North American exports to expand in 2014 by 3.7 percent, down from 4.6 percent in April, and the volume of import growth to remain unchanged at 3.9 percent.
However, Asian export and import volume, impacted by the slowdown in growth of the region’s biggest economy, China, are forecast to post a slowdown, with exports growing by 5 percent (6.9 percent earlier) and imports by 4 percent (6.4 percent).
Latin America, hit by the recession in Brazil, and the economic crisis in Argentina, is projected to now post a contraction in the volume of imports of 0.7 percent, down from an expansion of 4.1 percent anticipated in April, and exports to inch forward by only 0.4 percent, a marked slowdown from the 4.4 percent increase forecast in spring.