WTO: World merchandise trade up 3% in 2018, lower than 4.6% growth in 2017: WTO


NEW DELHI: The volume of world merchandise trade, as measured by the average of exports and imports, grew 3% in 2018, just above the 2.9% increase in world GDP over the same period but “significantly lower” than the 4.6% growth recorded in 2017, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said.

“This loss of momentum is partly due to increasing trade tensions and historically high levels of trade restrictions,” WTO director general Roberto Azevêdo said in the organisation’s World Trade Statistical Review 2019, released Monday.

“If trade is to pick up in 2019-20, trade tensions must be resolved,” he said.


The value of world merchandise exports was $19.48 trillion in 2018, up from $17.33 trillion in 2017, partly due to higher oil prices.

However, merchandise exports of developing economies grew 11% in 2018 while imports increased 12%, continuing the positive growth of 2017 after a decline in 2015-16. Merchandise exports totalled $8.22 trillion and imports $7.97 trillion in 2018.

Overall, developing economies’ exports and imports grew at a faster rate than those of developed economies and the world, according to the report.

Developing economies in Africa and the Middle East showed the strongest export growth in 2018 which on the import side, Latin America, Africa and Developing Asia had double-digit growth in 2018.

India-dynamic trader

As per the report, over the 2008-2018 period, China, Vietnam and India were the most dynamic traders among all Asian economies.

India entered the top ten global automotive exporters overtaking Brazil.

In services exports, India and Singapore have moved into ninth and tenth positions, overtaking Italy and Spain in the last ten years.

India was the second-largest exporter of ICT exports in 2018, with China overtaking the US as the third-largest.

In 2018, India was the eighth-largest services exporter and the tenth-largest services importer. The WTO attributed this to rapid export growth in other business services for three consecutive years (around 9%) and in telecommunications, computer and information services (7% in 2018) boosted the country’s performance.

“Strong domestic demand and high oil prices contributed mostly to this, with increases in imports of fuels and mining products, precious stones and electrical machinery being the main factors,” the report showed.

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