GENEVA — Global trade volume is forecast to grow 6.5 percent this year, after a record 14.5 percent surge in 2010, spearheaded by emerging Asian economies, the World Trade Organization said Thursday.

This story first appeared in the April 8, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“World trade bounced back strongly in 2010 despite protectionist pressures,” said Pascal Lamy, WTO director-general.

Lamy said the expected increase will be led by shipments from emerging nations growing 9.5 percent, and those from rich economies increasing 4.5 percent.

But Patrick Low, WTO chief economist, said the projections are marked by downside risks including uncertainties over the outlook for commodity prices such as food and crude oil, Japan’s recovery, political unrest in key oil-exporting nations, inflationary pressures and fiscal and sovereign debt issues.

The WTO’s “World Trade 2010, Prospects for 2011” report outlines that the factors that contributed to the 12 percent drop in world trade in 2009 at the height of the recession may have also helped boost the size of the rebound last year.

These include the spread of global supply chains and the product composition of trade compared to output, it said. However, the value of world trade in textiles and apparel, the WTO said, did not fluctuate as much as other products in 2009, when it was down 14 percent, and was up nearly 11 percent in 2010 to $536 billion.

Overall, in 2010, the value of global trade in goods increased 22 percent to $15.2 trillion, with the world’s top exporter, China, registering a 31 percent increase in exports to $1.58 trillion, followed by the U.S. with $1.28 trillion, a 21 percent gain, and Germany with $1.27 trillion, up 13 percent. Other notable increases were registered by India, with a 31 percent increase in shipments to $216 billion, and Brazil, with a 32 percent expansion to $202 billion.

Last year, the U.S. remained the world’s top importer with a 23 percent rise in the value of shipments to $1.97 trillion, followed by China with a 39 percent gain to $1.40 trillion and Germany with a 15 percent increase to $1.07 trillion.

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