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WTO Estimates 18.5% Fall In Global Trade In Q2

Global trade volumes shrank around 18.5 percent year-on-year in the three months to June when the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown restrictions were at their peak in most countries, the World Trade Organisation said Tuesday.

In the first quarter, the merchandise trade volume decreased 3 percent.

"These declines are historically large, but could have been much worse," the WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said.

The trade body said its economists now believe that while trade volumes will register a steep decline in 2020, they are unlikely to reach the worst-case scenario of a 32 percent slump projected in April.

In April, the WTO also forecast an optimistic scenario that saw a 13 percent decline this year. To achieve this, world trade only need to grow 2.5 percent per quarter for the rest of the year.

Looking ahead to 2021, adverse developments, including a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks, weaker than expected economic growth, or widespread recourse to trade restrictions, could see trade expansion fall short of earlier projections, WTO said.

World trade was forecast to grow 21.3 percent next year, under the optimistic scenario, while it was projected to increase 24 percent in the pessimistic scenario.

"For output and trade to rebound strongly in 2021, fiscal, monetary, and trade policies will all need to keep pulling in the same direction," Azevêdo said.

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