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Global trade remains static – WTO

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International trade, a key engine of global prosperity since the fall of the Berlin Wall, has ground nearly to a halt and is set to remain anemic in the coming years, says the World Trade Organization’s (WTO).

In fact, by the end of 2024, global trade will register the slowest half-decade of growth since the 1990s

In 2023, trade in goods and services expanded by the slenderest of margins, an estimated 0.2%, the slowest pace in 50 years outside of global recessions. It would have declined outright but for the growth of trade in services.

Trade in goods shrank roughly 2%, the sharpest contraction during this century outside of a global recession. Trade growth will improve this year but it will still be half the average rate in the decade before the pandemic.

That is an ill omen for people’s living standards everywhere.

The rapid expansion of global trade after 1990 enabled one billion people to escape extreme poverty. It souped up growth in developing economies, enabling many of them to narrow the income gap with wealthier economies.

During the first decade of this century, per-capita incomes in developing economies grew 3.5% points faster than in developed economies.

The rapid expansion of global trade after 1990 enabled one billion people to escape extreme poverty. It souped up growth in developing economies, enabling many of them to narrow the income gap with wealthier economies.

During the first decade of this century, per-capita incomes in developing economies grew 3.5% points faster than in developed economies. Trade also sped up the diffusion of technology, contributing to productivity growth across the world.

A good start for the global community would be to strengthen the rules-based international order. Policy makers should seek opportunities to reaffirm fundamental principles: the need to lower trade barriers, avoid distortive domestic policies, and build a broad and level playing field for international commerce.

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