WTO says world trade rising by 2.4pc in 2017

Dhaka,  Thu,  21 September 2017
Published : 12 Apr 2017, 22:02:38

WTO says world trade rising by 2.4pc in 2017

GENEVA, Apr 12 (Reuters): World trade is on track to expand by 2.4 per cent this year, though there is "deep uncertainty" about economic and policy developments, particularly in the United States, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said on Wednesday.

The range for growth this year has been adjusted to between 1.8 and 3.6 per cent, from 1.8 to 3.1 per cent last September, it said, pointing to a risk that trade activity could be "stifled" due to lack of clarity about government policies.  "We should see trade as part of the solution to economic difficulties, not part of the problem," WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said.

"Overall cautious optimism but trade growth remains fragile and there are considerable risks on the downside. Much of uncertainty is political," he told a news conference.  The world must "keep resisting the erection of new barriers to trade", he said.

The WTO has repeatedly revised preliminary estimates over the past five years as predictions of economic recovery prove overly optimistic.

Global trade grew by "an usually low" 1.3 per cent in 2016, the slowest pace since the financial crisis, failing to match even its revised forecast of 1.7 per cent of last September.  "The poor performance over the year was largely due to a significant slowdown in emerging markets where imports basically stagnated last year, barely growing in volume terms," Azevedo said.

In 2018, global trade is forecast to grow by between 2.1 per cent and 4 per cent in WTO's latest analysis.  "A spike in inflation leading to higher interest rates, tighter fiscal policies and the imposition of measures to curtail trade could all undermine higher trade growth over the next two years," it warned.

US President Donald Trump has made reducing US trade deficits a key focus of his economic agenda to try to grow American manufacturing jobs. He has taken particular aim at renegotiating trade relationships with China and Mexico.  

He is considering an executive order to launch a trade investigation that could lead to supplemental duties in certain product categories, a Trump administration official told Reuters on Monday.
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