Accelerated vaccinations can boost trade growth up to 2.5pc points in 2021: WTO
Published on: Friday, April 02, 2021
By: Bernama
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Kuala Lumpur: Accelerated vaccinations will allow containment measures of the Covid-19 pandemic to be relaxed sooner, raising trade growth to up to 2.5 percentage points above the baseline forecast in 2021, hence, returning trade to the pre-pandemic trend, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said.

Director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said depending on how quickly the world could bring the pandemic to an end, trade could either see a major resurgence over the next two years or experience a weaker and more prolonged recovery.

“On the other hand, if supply shortages continue or if vaccine-resistant strains of the virus emerge, trade growth could end up 2.0 percentage points below the baseline forecast.

“Overall, we believe that the balance of risks to the forecast is considered to be on the downside but upside potential exists if countries make wise policy choices,” she said at the annual global WTO trade forecast in Geneva on Wednesday.

Her statement was made available on WTO website.

Okonjo-Iweala said trade growth is also expected to slow to 4.0 per cent in 2022, leaving trade below its pre-pandemic trend.

On the recent Ever Given container ship accident that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week, she said the fact that the ship was able to cause so much disruption is a sign that global merchandise trade is relatively robust and global supply chains have held up through the pandemic.

“The word ‘relatively’ is important: the volume of world merchandise trade still contracted by 5.3 per cent in 2020. But this contraction was smaller than initially feared.

She said following a sharp decline in the first half of the year, trade recovered more quickly than expected in the second half of 2020.

“This rebound has continued and the WTO’s baseline trade forecast foresees an 8.0 per cent increase in the volume of world merchandise trade for 2021,” she said.

Meanwhile, she said export from Asia is forecast to be 10 per cent higher than 2019 while most other regions would see smaller increases or modest declines.

“For example, exports of Europe and North America’s would be steady while shipments from Africa and the Middle East would be down 4.0 per cent and 3.0 per cent, respectively,” she said.

She added that the import side would see declines in South America (‑3.0 per cent), Africa (-2.0 per cent) and the Middle East (-6.0 per cent), while Asia and North America would see increases of 5.0 per cent and 7.0 per cent, respectively, reflecting the relative strength of their economic recoveries. 


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