The head of the World Trade Organization Pascal Lamy, said on March 26 that "our economists are forecasting a world trade growth for 2010 of 9.5% with developing countries' trade growing 11% and industrialized countries' trade growing by 7.5%. This means that trade-wise, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it's certainly a good forecast, good news for the world economy.
World trade plunged 12% in 2009 due to a "sharp contraction in global demand" during the economic crisis.
Amid last year's slump, China overtook Germany to become the world's top exporter with $1.20 trillion worth of merchandise exported in 2009, according to WTO data.
Germany exported $1.12 trillion of merchandise, while the world's biggest importer, the United States, was in third place with $1.06 trillion worth of exports last year.
The WTO noted that the trade slump last year was particularly magnified by the "product composition of the fall in demand, by the presence of global supply chains, and by the fact that the decline in trade was synchronized across countries and regions."
Underlining the scale of the downturn, Patrick Low, chief economist at the WTO, said that the projected growth of 9.5% this year would need to be repeated in 2011 in order for the global economy to recover to peak trade levels reached in 2008 before the crisis struck. "If you need to do it in one year, you'll need 14%," he added.
The economist warned that the 2010 forecast could yet prove over-optimistic if currency and commodity prices were to show wild swings, or if the financial markets were to show other adverse developments. On the other hand, "if unemployment were to be reduced faster than is predicted then that would have a good effect on trade growth rates," added Low.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010