Global trade growth to remain stagnant in 2016: WTO

Growth in the volume of world trade is expected to remain sluggish in 2016 at 2.8 percent, unchanged from 2015, announced the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday.

“Trade is still registering positive growth, albeit at a disappointing rate,” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo during a press conference.

This would be the fifth consecutive year of trade growth below 3 percent, he said. While the volume of global trade is growing, its value has fallen because of shifting exchange rates and falls in commodity prices, he added.

Global merchandise trade in 2015 contrasted with the sharp decline in the dollar value of trade, falling 13 percent to 16.5 trillion U.S. dollars.

However, Azevedo appealed to WTO members to take steps, such as rolling back restrictive measures and implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, to lift global economic growth.

“This agreement will dramatically cut trade costs around the world, thereby potentially boosting trade by up to 1 trillion USD a year,” Azevedo added.

WTO also predicted that global trade growth would rise to 3.6 percent in 2017 due to higher imports in Asia.

But it warned that risks including further slowing in emerging economies and financial volatility could tilt the forecast to the downside, adding that some upside potential exist if monetary support from the European Central Bank succeeds in generating faster growth in the euro area.

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