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November 27, 2018

Further loss of world trade momentum expected

Global trade growth is expected to slow further into the fourth quarter of 2018 with momentum forecast to be below-trend, new figures show.

By Beth Wright

Global trade growth is expected to slow further into the fourth quarter of 2018 with momentum forecast to be below-trend, new figures show.

The latest reading of 98.6 from the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI) is the lowest since October 2016 and reflects declines in all component indices.

It is below the previous value of 100.3 and falls under the baseline value of 100 for the index, signalling that trade growth in the coming months is expected to be below-trend.

The continued moderation in the overall WTOI index was driven by the steady decline in the export orders index (96.6), which remains below trend and is approaching the weakest point recorded in 2012 during the eurozone crisis.

International air freight and container port throughput, at 100 and 101.2 respectively, have dipped but remain on trend.

The latest results are consistent with the WTO’s downgraded outlook for global trade issued in September amid escalating trade tensions and tighter credit conditions in important markets. The revised forecast anticipated trade expansion to slow to 3.9% in 2018 and 3.7% in 2019 from 4.7% in 2017.

The WTO maintains that its Indicator is designed to provide “real time” information on the trajectory of world trade relative to recent trends, and not as a short-term forecast, although it does provide an indication of trade growth in the near future.

Its main contribution is to identify turning points and gauge momentum in global trade growth. Readings of 100 indicate growth in-line with medium-term trends; readings greater than 100 suggest above trend growth; while those below 100 indicate the reverse. 

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