WTO Raises Forecast for Global Trade

Via The Wall Street Journal

By Peter Kenny

GENEVA—The World Trade Organization narrowly upgraded its 2014 forecast for global trade but cautioned that growth remained well below the long-term average.

The Geneva-based trade body Monday raised its estimate for growth in the value of trade in goods to 4.7% from 4.5% as economic growth showed signs of recovery. Despite the improvement, the forecast remained below the 5.3% average registered over the past 20 years.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo called the expected upturn "broad-based but modest."

"It is clear trade is going to improve," he said at a news conference.

The global trade body said much of the growth would be generated by emerging markets and Asia. Trade involving countries in Asia is seen growing 7% in 2014, the fastest of any region in the world, according to the WTO forecasts.

North American trade is seen growing at 4.6%.

Still, the WTO cautioned that Europe, which accounts for about a third of all global trade, remained a weak spot that would likely weigh on overall growth. Mr. Azevêdo said he expected Europe to lag behind for some time.

"If EU economies recover faster than expected and trade between them is revitalized, this could cause world trade to surprise on the upside," Mr. Azevêdo said.

The WTO report noted that China had overtaken the U.S. to become the world's largest trader as measured by the sum of exports and imports, generating 11% of world trade. The U.S. generated 10.4%.

Ainsley Shea