GENEVA — Global merchandise trade is forecast to increase in volume by 7 percent in 2006, compared with this year’s projected 6.5 percent gain, according the World Trade Organization.
The trade outlook by WTO economists is based on forecasts of a moderate recovery in the global economy.
The deceleration in trade this year, compared with the 9 percent growth in 2004, is partly a result of lower economic output that the WTO attributed to higher oil costs, among other factors.
“The steep rise in oil prices, to their highest level in more than two decades, has negatively affected consumer and business confidence in the oil importing countries,” said the global trade body, adding that the full impact is still to be felt.
Pascal Lamy, WTO director-general, said the decelerating trend “is a cause for some concern.”
“To set us on the right course, we need to create more opportunities for trade, particularly in developing countries, and we need to adjust global trade rules to better meet the needs of entrepreneurs in the 21st century,” Lamy said.
According to the WTO’s latest annual international trade statistics report, in 2004 world exports of merchandise increased 21 percent to $8.9 trillion and commercial services advanced 18 percent to $2.1 trillion.
But global exports in textiles and apparel posted among the smallest gains. Last year, exports of textiles increased 13 percent to $195 billion and exports of apparel gained 11 percent to $258 billion. Overall global exports in manufacturing went up 20 percent to $6.5 trillion, the WTO said.
The European Union was ranked the largest exporter of apparel with $74.9 billion, up 9 percent for the year, followed by China with $61.8 billion, up 19 percent, and Hong Kong with $25 billion, up 8 percent. Hong Kong is a special administrative district of China, but its exports are treated separately.
Other major exporters included Turkey, with a 12.3 percent gain to $11.1 billion, and Mexico, with a 2 percent decline to $7.2 billion.
The top apparel importers were the EU with $121.6 billion, up 14 percent, followed by the U.S., with a 15 percent increase to $75.7 billion, and Japan, with a 6 percent gain to $21.6 billion.
For textiles, the EU was the top exporter, with shipments valued at $71.2 billion, up 10 percent for the year. China was second with $33.4 billion, up 24 percent, followed by Hong Kong with a 9 percent gain to $14.3 billion and the U.S., also with a 9 percent increase to $11.9 billion.