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International trade set to shrink 27% in second quarter after April 'nosedive', says UNCTAD

GENEVA (Reuters) - International trade is set to plunge by 27% in the second quarter and by 20% for the year, as major sectors, including the automotive and energy industries, collapse from the effects the pandemic, a United Nations agency said on Thursday.

“Assuming persisting uncertainty, UNCTAD forecast indicates a decline of around 20% for the year 2020,” the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development said in a report. “Trade in the automotive and energy sector collapsed while trade in agri-food products has been stable.”

Trade in developing countries appears to have taken a “nosedive” in April, falling faster relative to developed countries, it said. Imports into developing countries fell by 19% in April while their exports shrank by 18%, it said.

China appeared to have “fared better” than other major economies, with exports growing by 3% in April, but the recovery may be short-lived as imports and exports fell by 8% in May, it added.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, Edmund Blair, Larry King