Global merchandise trade continues robust recovery from pandemic shock: WTO report

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The global merchandise trade is continuing its robust recovery from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the WTO’s Goods Trade Barometer, which hit a record high in its latest reading issued on Wednesday. The latest barometer reading of 110.4 is the highest on record since the indicator was first released in July 2016, and up more than 20 points year-on-year, the Geneva-based 164-member multi-lateral body World Trade Organisation (WTO) said.

The reading will augur well for India, as the country’s exports are recording healthy growth rates.

“The rise in the barometer reflects both the strength of current trade expansion and the depth of the pandemic-induced shock in 2020,” it said adding the latest barometer reading suggests that goods trade will see an even larger year-on-year increase in the second quarter.

However, it said that the outlook for world trade continues to be overshadowed by downside risks, including regional disparities, continued weakness in services trade, and lagging vaccination timetables, particularly in poor countries.

COVID-19 continues to pose the greatest threat to the outlook for trade, as new waves of infection could easily undermine the recovery, it added.

Further, it said that global goods trade has grown steadily since it registered a

decline in the second quarter of 2020 during the early days of the pandemic.

“The volume of merchandise trade was up 5.7 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021, the largest jump since the 5.8 per cent rise in the third quarter of 2011,” it said.

It added that the latest barometer reading is broadly consistent with the WTO’s most recent trade forecast of 31 March, which foresaw an 8 per cent increase in the volume of world merchandise trade in 2021 following a 5.3 per cent drop in 2020.

India has been a member of the WTO, which deals with global trade norms, since 1995.

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