World merchandise trade volume growth is set to fall to 2.6 per cent in the current year, down from 3.0 per cent in the past year, according to the latest forecast of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
“World trade will continue to face strong headwinds in 2019 and 2020 after growing more slowly than expected in 2018 due to rising trade tensions and increased economic uncertainty,” said the multilateral trade body on Tuesday.
“Trade tensions still pose the greatest risk to the forecast, but a relaxation could provide some upside potential” said a press statement of the organisation in this regard.
The current year’s projected trade growth is likely to be accompanied by the global GDP growth of 2.6 per cent, according to the WTO forecast.
“Trade growth should pick up to 3.0 per cent in 2020 with GDP growth steady at 2.6 per cent,” it added.
Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of WTO, opined that as trade tensions running high, no one should be surprised by this gloomy outlook.
“Trade cannot play its full role in driving growth when we see such high levels of uncertainty,” he was quoted in the press statement.
“It is increasingly urgent that we resolve tensions and focus on charting a positive path forward for global trade which responds to the real challenges in today's economy – such as the technological revolution and the imperative of creating jobs and boosting development. WTO members are working to do this and are discussing ways to strengthen and safeguard the trading system,” he added.
Azevêdo cautioned that if the members of the WTO forget the fundamental importance of the rules-based trading system they would risk weakening it, which, in his language: “would be an historic mistake with repercussions for jobs, growth and stability around the world."