The World Trade Organization (WTO) quarterly outlook indicator showed on Monday that global goods trade growth was likely to remain weak, with a reading of 96.3, unchanged from February, the lowest since 2010.
“The outlook for trade could worsen further if heightened trade tensions are not resolved or if macroeconomic policy fails to adjust to changing circumstances,” the WTO said, adding that the latest indicator did not reflect major trade moves in the last few days.
A score of below 100 in the indicator, a composite measure of seven drivers of trade, signals below-trend growth in global goods trade, which the WTO’s April forecast estimated at 2.6% this year, the mid-point of a forecast range from 1.3% to 4.0%.
But WTO economists warned that there were several scenarios that could pull trade growth toward the bottom end of that range, including worsening trade tensions between the United States and China, or Britain leaving the European Union without a deal on their future relationship.
Since April there has been no resolution to the Brexit impasse and U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered a massive increase in tariffs on Chinese goods and said car imports are a national security threat, although he postponed a tariff he had threatened to impose on cars from around the world.
The quarterly indicator is based on merchandise trade volume in the previous quarter, export orders, international air freight, container port throughput, car production and sales, electronic components and agricultural raw materials.