World trade up 30% in value and 6% in volume

World trade increased 30% in value and 6% in volume compared to 2019, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported.

At an annual rate, the value of world trade increased during the first quarter of 2022, although its growth continued to slow.

Overall, the value of world trade reached a record level of about $7.7 trillion in the first quarter of 2022, up about $1 trillion from the first quarter of 2021 and about $250 million from the fourth quarter of 2021.

Both trade in goods (merchandise) and services grew during the first quarter of 2022.

On the one hand, trade in goods reached about $6.1 billion (an increase of about 25% relative to the first quarter of 2021, and an increase of about 3.6% relative to the fourth quarter of 2021).

On the other hand, trade in services amounted to about $1.6 trillion (an increase of approximately 22% relative to Q1 2021, and an increase of approximately 1.7% relative to Q4 2021).

UNCTAD expects trade growth to remain positive, but to continue to decelerate during the second quarter of 2022.

World trade

Most of the growth in merchandise trade over the past year was nominal.

In the first quarter of 2022, the value of trade was about 30% higher than pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

In contrast, trade volumes increased by a much smaller extent (about 6 percent).

The divergence between values and volumes is due to higher commodity prices, especially for energy products, and general inflation.

Trends in imports and exports for some of the world’s major trading economies further illustrate the patterns of trade growth during the first quarter of 2022.

Overall, goods trade in all major economies was well above pre-pandemic 2019 levels for both imports and exports.

Negative quarter-on-quarter rates reveal that import trends reversed for Brazil and the Russian Federation during Q1 2022.

Export growth in this period remained strong for Brazil and South Africa.

To note: services data are presented with a one-quarter lag.

In Q4 2021, services trade for most major economies was still substantially below pre-pandemic 2019 averages.

However, as the quarter-over-quarter rates show, services trade of most major economies continued to recover during the fourth quarter of 2021, with the exception of Brazil, Japan, and imports to the European Union.


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