Recovery in global trade to stall again in Q1: UN report

Global trade in goods were up about 8 per cent in the fourth quarter compared with the third.
Global trade in goods were up about 8 per cent in the fourth quarter compared with the third.PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (REUTERS) - A recovery in global trade is expected to slow again in the first quarter of 2021 as the coronavirus pandemic keeps disrupting the travel industry after world trade contracted 9 per cent in 2020, a United Nations report said on Wednesday (Feb 10).

After lockdowns caused trade to shrink 15 per cent in the first half of 2020, it rebounded in the second half, with global trade in goods up about 8 per cent in the fourth quarter compared with the third, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) said.

That was largely due to developing countries, particularly those in East Asia, with trade in goods originating from the region up 12 per cent in the fourth quarter year-on-year.

"East Asian economies have been leading the recovery process with strong export growth and gains in global market share," Unctad said, adding that most manufacturing sectors rebounded in the fourth quarter, apart from energy and transport.

However, trade in services stagnated at levels seen in the third quarter, the report said, adding that exports of services from China, and to a lesser degree India, had fared relatively better than other countries.

For the first quarter of 2021, Unctad projects a 1.5 per cent fall in trade in goods versus the previous quarter, and a 7 per cent drop in trade in services, although it said its forecasts were uncertain due to the pandemic and uncertainty about stimulus packages.