Skip to main content

A truck hauls a shipping container at Yusen Terminals on Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles on Jan. 30, 2019.

Mike Blake/Reuters

The World Trade Organization cut its forecast for growth in global trade this year by more than half on Tuesday and said further rounds of tariffs and retaliation, a slowing economy and a disorderly Brexit could squeeze it even more.

The WTO said it now expected global merchandise trade to increase by 1.2 per cent this year, compared with its April estimate of 2.6 per cent. That growth was 3.0 per cent in 2018. For 2020, growth 2.7 per cent is forecast, down from a previous estimate of 3.0 per cent.

“The darkening outlook for trade is discouraging, but not unexpected,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a statement, urging WTO members to resolve trade disagreements and cooperate to reform the WTO.

Story continues below advertisement

The Geneva-based body said its reduced forecasts reflected estimates for slower expansion of the global economy, partly due to trade tensions, but also because of cyclical and structural factors and, in Europe, Brexit-related uncertainty.

The WTO gave a forecast range for trade growth this year of 0.5 per cent to 1.6 per cent and for 2020 of 1.7 per cent to 3.7 per cent, with the upper end of the ranges reachable if trade tensions eased.

“Risks to the forecast are heavily weighted to the downside and dominated by trade policy,” the WTO said.

The United States and China have been locked in a trade war for over a year. They have levied punitive duties on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s goods, roiling financial markets and threatening global growth.

U.S. President Donald Trump has also imposed tariffs on products from other countries, notably on steel and aluminium, in a bid to cut the trade deficit of the world’s largest economy. The WTO figures implied he had had limited success.

The WTO said on Tuesday that North America showed the fastest growth of exports of any region in the first half of the year, at 1.4 per cent, although the rise of imports into North America were also greater than elsewhere, at 1.8 per cent.

Related topics

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies