Small economies are falling behind
International merchandise trade is booming. Exports of many countries are growing at double digit rates and global trade has already surpassed the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. However, the global trade recovery hides an important asymmetry: small economies and the poorest countries are falling behind. Their recovery is not yet in sight.
In April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the global economy to a standstill. Production and consumption quickly scaled back across the world and international trade appeared to be on its way to a lasting decline. However, by the summer of 2020, global merchandise trade began to recover, fueled by exports of COVID-19 related goods – largely from East Asian economies. By the end of the year trade was strongly rebounding for many countries and sectors. Global trade continued to grow in the first half of 2021, as global value chains recovered and demand in advanced economies increased.
Global trade is expected to continue growing during 2021
Global trade is expected to continue growing during 2021. Preliminary data for the first half of 2021 indicates an increase in the value of merchandise trade of about 30% compared to 2020 and of about 15% compared to 2019. UNCTAD projects trade to further recover during the second half of 2021. Overall, for 2021 the value of global trade is forecasted to be about 20% and 28% higher than 2019 and 2020, respectively.
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