UNCTAD projects record-high global trade this year amid ‘Uncertain’ 2022

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Desk Reporter
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According to the United Nations (UN) economists, global trade is expected to reach $28 trillion this year, up 23 percent from pre-pandemic levels, but the forecast for 2022 remains quite uncertain.

“This strong growth in demand, for goods, as opposed to services, is largely the result of pandemic restrictions easing, but also from economic stimulus packages and sharp increases in the price of raw materials,” as per the reports.

According to UN trade and development body UNCTAD, although worldwide commerce stabilized during the second half of 2021, trade in goods went on to reach record levels between July and September. The services sector grew in line with the overall growth, but it remained below 2019 levels.

UNCTAD’s Global Trade update has stated that from a regional perspective, trade growth remained uneven for the first half of the year, but it had a “broader” reach in the three months that followed.

Furthermore, trade flows for emerging countries increased more rapidly than for developed economies overall in the third quarter of the year. The report valued the global goods trade at $5.6 trillion in the third quarter of this year, which is a new all-time record, while services stood at about $1.5 trillion.

UNCTAD predicts weaker growth in goods trade for the rest of the year, but “a more optimistic trend for services,” albeit from a lower starting point.

“Lower-than-expected economic growth rates are generally reflected in more downcast global trade trends,” UNCTAD noted, while also pointing to inflationary pressures” that may also negatively impact national economies and international trade flows.”

The UN body’s global trade outlook also remarked that “many economies, including those in the European Union”, continue to face COVID-19-related disruption which may affect consumer demand in 2022.

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