A growing literature aims to understand the remarkable slowdown in global trade growth in recent years. This column discusses a chapter in the IMF’s October 2016 World Economic Outlook on the drivers of the trade slowdown, and compares the findings to those of other recent studies. It argues that a variety of factors have contributed to weak trade growth, with widespread anaemic economic activity and the change in its composition being among the key drivers.
Aqib Aslam, Emine Boz, Eugenio Cerutti, Marcos Poplawski-Ribeiro, Petia Topalova, 13 February 2017
Marcel Timmer, Bart Los, Robert Stehrer, Gaaitzen De Vries, 21 November 2016
The recent deceleration of world trade has been widely discussed, and many argue the relationship between trade and GDP growth is undergoing a fundamental shift. This column presents a novel framework to account for changes in the import intensity of global demand. Import intensity rose between 2000 and 2008 due to high demand for durables and to international production fragmentation. After 2011, fragmentation stopped and demand shifted to services, in particular in China. Low trade ratios are likely to persist in the near future.
Alexander Al-Haschimi, Martin Gächter, David Lodge, Walter Steingress, 14 October 2016
Exceptionally weak global trade growth over recent years has presented a puzzle to academics and policymakers alike. This column presents a study by an expert network across European central banks which suggests that it may actually be the past strength of trade which was exceptional, rather than the subsequent slowdown. The recent deceleration of trade growth can thus be seen as a ‘great normalisation’. The important implication is that an upturn in aggregate demand will not necessarily lead to a significant recovery in global trade.
Simon Evenett, Johannes Fritz, 12 November 2015
The value of world trade is falling. This column, which introduces the 18th Global Trade Alert report, shows that the manufactures that account for a large share of the fall are those where G20 nations have imposed the most trade restrictions since 2014. G20 leaders should request that the Chinese G20 Presidency support initiatives to revive global trade and avoid more trade distortions.
Emine Boz, Matthieu Bussière, Clément Marsilli, 12 November 2014
The past three years have witnessed a slowdown in global trade. This column shows that the slowdown was particularly pronounced in advanced economies, especially the Eurozone. In a panel of 18 OECD economies, most of the slowdown can be explained by cyclical factors. However, structural factors – global value chains and especially protectionism – may have played a role too.
Michael Ferrantino, Daria Taglioni, 06 April 2014
Recent growth in trade has decelerated significantly since its sharp recovery in 2010. This column discusses the role of global value chains in international trade and their contribution to the trade slowdown. Trade in complex products organised by global value chains, in particular motor vehicles, has been more sensitive to global downturn than has trade in simple products. Thus, either focusing on simpler products less dependent on global value chains, or diversifying the export folios, could be useful in reducing the risk of a slowdown in global merchandise.