World trade in goods and services plummets

World trade in goods and services will have a year-on-year growth of around 1% in 2022, projected UNCTAD.

If the 1980s and 1990s are commonly described as the period of trade liberalization, the last three decades were marked not so much by the reduction of trade tariffs and investment barriers as by changes in domestic regulatory standards and norms within national jurisdictions.

According to an UNCTAD report, the global regulatory architecture that emerged as a result of these reforms has primarily benefited the interests of large corporations, such as international banks and other multinational companies.

As many developing countries were the recipients of these reforms, their policy space has been progressively diminished by the recent crises.

UNCTAD reports that the asymmetry of the benefits of the international trading system, evident in both advanced and developing countries, has been generating a backlash against the rules of global governance and, increasingly, the very idea of free trade.

This backlash is prompting policymakers to reassess their strategic prioritization of the role of trade.

Global trade

In the ongoing policy debate on the regulatory architecture of global trade, the potential costs of deeper trade relations are no longer considered marginal.

Similarly, UNCTAD adds, the idea that the benefits of deregulation reforms – for both developed and developing countries – would flow automatically has never been so strongly and widely challenged.

Instead, managing trade is increasingly about harnessing strategic interests with the support of state actors who are much more willing to intervene in the functioning of markets, both domestic and international.

According to UNCTAD, the value of internationally traded goods reached a record $24.9 trillion in 2022, representing almost a quarter of global Gross Domestic Product.

International trade is facilitated by the third-party logistics market, which, according to Astute Analytica, a research and data firm, was valued at $1.1 trillion in 2022 and is expected to reach $2.3 trillion in 2031, with a compound annual rate of 8.7% between 2023 and 2031.


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