10 April 2020
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) presented its trade forecast report for 2020 earlier this week. WTO economists expect world trade to fall by between 13% and 32% this year as the COVID 19 pandemic disrupts normal economic activity and life around the world. The wide range of possibilities for the predicted decline is explained by the unprecedented nature of this health crisis and the uncertainty around its precise economic impact. But WTO economists believe the decline will likely exceed the trade slump brought on by the global financial crisis of 2008‑09. The report predicts that nearly all regions will suffer double-digit declines in trade volumes, with North America and Asia likely to be among the hardest hit. Sectors that are expected to suffer most are those with complex value chains such as electronics and automotive products. Estimates of the expected recovery in 2021 are equally uncertain, with outcomes depending largely on the duration of the outbreak and the effectiveness of the policy responses.