GENEVA — World trade volume in goods will grow a sluggish 2.8 percent in 2016, down from the 3.9 percent rise projected in September, with import demand in the U.S. and the European Union expected to outpace that of emerging economies, the World Trade Organization said Thursday.
Roberto Azevêdo, WTO director-general, said 2016 “will be the fifth consecutive year of sub 3 percent growth,” but added that for 2017 the WTO is forecasting trade growth “will pick up to 3.6 percent.” In 2015, trade grew 2.8 percent, he said.
But Azevêdo, during the launch of the agency’s “World Trade in 2015 and Outlook for 2016” press conference also cautioned that “risks to these forecasts remain mostly on the downside” and highlighted the possibility of further slowing in emerging economies and volatility in financial markets.
“Indicators of business and consumer sentiment have turned more negative recently,” he said, but added that there was also “some limited upside potential if monetary policy succeeds in lifting growth in the euro area.”
The WTO chief noted that last year the dollar value of trade declined significantly largely due to the big movements in commodity prices and exchange rates.
In 2015, the value of global trade in goods fell 13.2 percent to $16.5 trillion, with China registering a 2.9 percent decrease to $2.27 trillion, followed by the U.S. with a 7.1 percent decline to $1.5 trillion and Germany with an 11 percent contraction to $1.3 trillion.
In 2015, the U.S. remained the world’s top importer, with the value of shipments down 4.3 percent to $2.3 trillion, followed by China with a 14.2 percent decline to $1.6 trillion and Germany with a 13 percent contraction to $1 trillion.
In global apparel trade, WTO economists estimate the value of shipments declined 5.3 percent to $457.7 billion in 2015.
While many major traditional apparel exporting nations such as China, Turkey and Italy posted declines, some Asian exporters such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar recorded robust increases in the value of apparel shipments.
Overall, Vietnam was the only country among the WTO’s top 30 exporters to post an increase in the value of its goods exports, which grew by 7.9 percent to $162 billion, and was also the only nation among the top 30 importers of goods to notch an increase, with the value of its imports up 12.3 percent to $166 billion.
The value of apparel exports were also up for India by 1.4 percent to $7.7 billion, and for Sri Lanka, up 2.9 percent to $4.7 billion.