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Global trade growth forecast to decline 9.2% in 2020: WTO

This Sept. 3, 2019 file photo shows the headquarters of the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. (Kyodo)

GENEVA (Kyodo) -- The volume of world merchandise trade is expected to decline by 9.2 percent in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting global economic contraction, the World Trade Organization said Tuesday in a revised forecast.

    The projection is lower than the most optimistic scenario given by the Geneva-based organization in April, when it predicted a 12.9 percent fall, due to strong trade performances in June and July triggered by the easing of lockdowns in many parts of the world and the subsequent acceleration of economic activities.

    But the WTO now forecasts a 7.2 percent world trade increase for 2021, far below the pre-pandemic level and lower than the April projection for a rebound of between 21 percent and 24 percent.

    Asia is expected to be the least affected region in terms of trade, with a decline in 2020 of 4.4 percent and 4.5 percent in imports and exports, respectively, compared to falls amounting to 8.7 percent and 14.7 percent in North America.

    Meanwhile, the WTO said in a statement that global GDP growth is likely to pick up to 4.9 percent in 2021, but that this is "highly dependent on policy measures and on the severity of the disease."

    Noting that whether a recovery can be sustained over the medium term hinges on the strength of investment and employment, the WTO said "both could be undermined if confidence is dented by new outbreaks of COVID-19, which might force governments to impose additional lockdowns."

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