GENEVA — The World Trade Organization on Wednesday revised downward its forecast for growth in world merchandise trade volume this year to 2.8 percent from the 3.3 projected in April, influenced largely by falling import demand in China, Brazil and other emerging nations.
WTO trade economists also cut the trade growth forecast for 2016 to 3.9 percent from 4 percent projected earlier.
But analysts at the Geneva-based WTO also cautioned that “risks to the world economy are increasingly on the downside” and “these include sharper-than-expected slowdowns in emerging and developing economies.”
The agency said trade growth “remains uneven” across countries and regions, and noted that Europe reported the fastest year-on-year export growth in the second quarter at 2.7 percent, followed by North America with 2.1 percent, while Asia lagged with a gain of 0.6 percent, and South and Central America with 0.4 percent.
As a result, the WTO now expects export shipments from developed nations to expand 3 percent, down from 3.2 percent forecast earlier, and 3.9 in 2016, also down from 4.4 percent anticipated in April. Similarly, it estimates exports from developing economies to grow just 2.4 percent this year, down from 3.6 percent forecast earlier, and to post an increase of only 3.8 percent next year, down from the initial forecast of 4.1 percent.
The biggest downward revision to the export outlook for 2015, the WTO said, was applied to Asia.
“Our estimate was lowered to 3.1 percent from 5 percent in April,” analysts said.
However, on import growth the downward revision to Asia was even deeper, to 5.1 percent from 2.6 percent, partly due to falls in Chinese imports that were down 2.2 percent year-on-year in the second quarter.
According to preliminary WTO figures for textile imports in value and quantity terms for China for the first eight months of the year, some categories such as volume of cotton shipments were down 14 percent, but on average textile imports declined 8 percent.
The agency also drastically revised downward imports for South and Central America, in large part over the adverse economic situation in Brazil, and now expects them to contract 5.6 percent from the 0.5 percent decline previously projected.
Reflecting the economic recovery in the U.S. and Europe, the volume of imports to North America have been revised upward to 6.4 percent for this year from 4.9 percent earlier, and to 3.2 percent from 2.7 percent for Europe.
For all developed economies, imports have been revised slightly down to 3.1 percent from 3.2 percent, outperforming the 2.5 percent now anticipated for developing economies, down from 3.7 percent earlier.