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UN trade body projects 7-9 pct year-on-year drop in 2020 global trade

Xinhua, October 21, 2020
Xinhua, October 21, 2020
2020/10/22 11:29
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A United Nations report on Wednesday forecast a 7 percent to 9 percent year-on-year drop in the value of global trade in 2020, despite signs of a weak rebound in the third quarter led by a recovery in China.


In the latest quarterly report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Geneva-based trade body estimates world trade to be about 5 percent less in the third quarter than the same period in 2019, an improvement from the 19 percent year-on-year decline recorded in the second quarter but still insufficient to pull trade out of the red.


Global trade was bouncing back marginally in the third quarter, but remains negative except for China, it said.


Preliminary forecasts put year-on-year growth for the fourth quarter at 3 percent less. However, the report warned of uncertainties as how the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve and affect economic activity in the coming months.


The report also highlighted China's notable trade recovery, saying that the country's exports rebounded strongly in the third quarter after falling in the early months, with year-on-year growth rate at almost 10 percent.


"In the third quarter, Chinese trade statistics have progressively got better. In value, China exports for 2020 are now almost at the same level of the first nine months of 2019," UNCTAD Economist Alessandro Nicita told Xinhua in an interview.


"If this trends continues, it could very well be that China could register overall export growth for 2020," he said.


"Ultimately, for China to contribute to the global economy, it would be important not only to act as a manufacturing hub, but also to contribute more to global demand," Nicita added.


UNCTAD also warned that no region was spared from the fall in international trade in the second quarter of 2020, saying the sharpest decline was for the West and South Asia regions, where imports dropped by 35 percent and exports by 41 percent.


In its latest World Economic Outlook earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted a 2020 global contraction of 4.4 percent, an improvement over a 5.2 percent fall predicted in June, when pandemic-related business closures reached their peak.


The global economy will return to growth of 5.2 percent in 2021, according to the IMF.