WTO: world trade recovers, with an annual forecast of 8%

The World Trade Organization (WTO) maintained its forecast of an 8% year-on-year rise in world merchandise trade volumes for 2021, following the result of a related indicator.

This is the Merchandise Trade Barometer, a composite leading indicator of world trade that provides real-time information on the trajectory of merchandise trade in relation to recent trends.

The latest reading for this indicator is 109.7, almost 10 points above the benchmark value of 100 for the index and an increase of 21.6 points year-on-year.

Therefore, the trend of this index reflects both the strength of the current recovery and the depth of the impact induced by the pandemic last year.

World trade

The latest Barometer reading broadly coincides with the current WTO trade forecast (March 31), which foresees an 8% rebound in merchandise trade volumes in 2021.

In general, world trade has been recovering since the second quarter of 2020, when the spread of Covid-19 caused lockdowns in many countries and caused a sharp drop in world trade.

The volume of merchandise trade fell 15.5% year-on-year in the second quarter, when the lockdowns were in full effect, but in the fourth quarter trade had exceeded the level of the same period in 2019.

Quarterly trade volume statistics for the first and second quarters of 2021 have yet to be released, but when they are they are expected to show very strong year-on-year growth, partly due to the recent strengthening of trade and partly as a result of the trade collapse. from last year.

All of the Barometer’s component indices were above trend in the past month, reflecting the broad nature of the recovery.

All indices were also climbing, suggesting accelerated growth.

The biggest gains were seen in the most forward-looking components, including:

  • Export orders (114.8).
  • Air transport (111.1).
  • Electronic components (115.2).

The indices for automotive products (105.5) and raw materials (105.4, mainly wood for house construction) may indicate an increase in consumer confidence.

Finally, container shipping (106.7) has held up well throughout the pandemic.