The World Trade Organization (WTO) is now predicting global merchandise trade volume growth of 10.8% in 2021-up from 8.0% forecasted in March-followed by a 4.7% rise in 2022.
The organization says growth should moderate as merchandise trade approaches its pre-pandemic long-run trend. Supply-side issues such as semiconductor scarcity and port backlogs may strain supply chains and weigh on trade in particular areas, but they are unlikely to have large impacts on global aggregates. The biggest downside risks come from the pandemic itself.
Behind the strong overall trade increase, however, there is significant divergence across countries, with some developing regions falling well below the global average.
If the current forecast is realized, by the final quarter of 2022 Asia’s merchandise imports will be 14.2% higher than they were in 2019. Over the same period, imports will have risen by 11.9% in North America, 10.8% in South and Central America, 9.4% in Europe, 8.2% in Africa, 5.7% in the Commonwealth of Independent States and 5.4% in the Middle East.
Asia’s exports will have grown 18.8% over that period, while all other regions will have recorded more modest increases: North America (8.0%), Europe (7.8%), CIS (6.2%), South America (4.8%), the Middle East (2.9%) and Africa (1.9%).