World trade growth is likely to remain weak into the second quarter of 2019, according to the latest World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI), released on Monday by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The latest WTOI reading of 96.3, remains well below the baseline value of 100 for the index and maintains the weakest level since 2010, signaling continued falling trade growth in the first half of 2019.
The latest result of the WTOI was driven by declines in all but two component indices. Indices for international air freight (92.3), automobile production and sales (92.2), and agricultural raw materials (92.4) fell further below trend. The index for container port throughput (101.0) also declined but remained above 100, suggesting growth in line with recent trends. Indices for export orders (96.6) and electronic components (96.7) appear to have bottomed out, even as both remained firmly below-trend.
"The outlook for trade could worsen further if heightened trade tensions are not resolved or if the macroeconomic policy fails to adjust to changing circumstances," warned the WTO.
In their April trade forecast, WTO economists estimated that merchandise trade volume growth would fall to 2.6 percent in 2019, down from 3.0 percent in 2018, before rebounding to 3.0 percent in 2020.
"Any rebound in 2020 would depend on reduced trade tensions and/or improved macroeconomic performance," added the economists.