The volume of world merchandise trade is projected to rise 8 percent in 2021 from last year following a decline of 5.3 percent in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the World Trade Organization said Wednesday. The Geneva-based international body also forecast the growth of global trade volume to slow to 4 percent in 2022, falling below the pre-pandemic trend. “COVID-19 continues to pose the greatest threat to the outlook for trade, as new waves of infection could easily undermine any hoped-for recovery,” the WTO said
“Keeping international markets open will be essential for economies to recover from this crisis and a rapid, global and equitable vaccine roll-out is a prerequisite for the strong and sustained recovery we all need,” WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was quoted as saying. The impact of the pandemic on merchandise trade varied depending on region in 2020, with Asia seeing exports increase by 0.3 percent and imports decrease by only 1.3 percent, compared to the rest of the world with large declines on both fronts. Last October, the WTO estimated a steeper 9.2 percent decline in the volume of world merchandise trade for 2020, followed by a slightly less optimistic 7.2 percent rise for 2021. Global trade has proven to be relatively resilient compared to gross domestic product growth in many countries, with world GDP expected to increase 5.1 percent in 2021 and 3.8 percent in 2022 after a contraction of 3.8 percent last year.