WTO says goods trade accelerating, with regional gaps

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured outside the World Trade Organization (WTO) building in Geneva, Switzerland, April 1, 2021. Picture taken April 1, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - The recovery of global goods trade is accelerating from a steep drop a year ago due to COVID-19, although some regions are lagging given an unequal roll-out of vaccinations, the World Trade Organization said on Friday.

The WTO said its goods trade barometer had surged to 109.7 points in May, well above the baseline of 100, from 103.9 in February and the low of 88.1 in the second quarter of 2020, when global goods trade volume fell 15.5%.

“In the latest month, all of the barometer’s component indices were above trend and rising, highlighting the broad-based nature of the recovery and signalling an accelerating pace of trade expansion,” the WTO said.

The WTO said the reading was broadly in line with its forecast of an 8% pick-up of merchandise trade volume this year after a 5.3% decline in 2020, but the improvement was uneven.

“The relatively positive short-term outlook for trade is marred by regional disparities, continued weakness in services trade and lagging vaccination timetables, particularly in poor countries,” it said.

The Geneva-based trade body said that the largest gains were seen for export orders, air freight and electronic components. Automotive products and agricultural raw materials, mostly wood for construction, were also strong, likely reflecting improved consumer sentiment.

Container shipping, less hit by the pandemic, was also robust.

The WTO goods trade barometer is a composite of data and is designed to anticipate turning points and gauge momentum in global trade growth rather than to provide a specific short-term forecast.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Emma Farge and Steve Orlofsky