GENEVA — Strong growth in the U.S., China and Western Europe is expected to drive a 7.5 percent growth in global trade this year, ahead of last year’s 4.5 percent increase, the World Trade Organization forecast Monday.
The report showed that China’s imports last year grew at faster pace than its exports.
China in 2003 saw its exports grow 35 percent to $438.4 billion, making it the world’s fourth-largest exporter; it had been ranked fifth in 2004. Its imports rose 40 percent to $412.8 billion, moving it to the third-largest importer slot, from sixth.
“The rapid expansion of China’s merchandise trade stands out,” a WTO report said.
According to WTO trade estimates, China’s exports of clothing last year expanded by 26.1 percent to $52.1 billion.
In a press conference, WTO chief economist Patrick Low warned that there were a few risks that could make this year’s global growth lower than forecast.
These included whether the U.S. will continue with what he called its “rather remarkable income and trade growth performance….Whether western European demand will stay up, where it is now, and feeding into trade growth, and a third factor is what will happen to oil prices.”
Despite the projected rebound in trade, the strongest since the late Nineties, WTO chief Supachai Panitchpakdi emphasized that the pace of world trade growth “remains uneven and there remain many barriers to trade globally….Greater expansion of trade would provide support for sustained economic growth and job creation.”
In 2003, the global agency said the value of merchandise exports increased by 16 percent to $7.3 trillion boosted by double-digit-percentage gains by major economies such as Germany, and “unprecedented” levels of expansion by China.
In nominal terms, Germany — in part due to the low value of the dollar, replaced the U.S. as the world’s top exporter with shipments worth $748.4 billion, up 22 percent from the year before, followed by the U.S. with $724 billion, up 4 percent.
The U.S. remained the world’s top merchandise importer with a 9 percent rise to $1.3 trillion, for a 16.8 percent share of total world imports. Next was?Germany with $601.7 billion, up 23 percent.