The Slowing in World Trade: a structural break, the cause of uncertainty

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Series Details No.421, February 2017
Publication Date 13/02/2017
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As the financial crisis of 2008-2009 fades into the past, it is increasingly clear that world trade has slowed both structurally and for the long term. After a contraction of more than 10% in 2009 the volume of the trade in goods and services made a vigorous recovery in 2010, with growth of nearly 13%, whilst world GDP increased by 4.1%. After this roller coaster ride it might have seemed natural to recover pre-crisis trends, and when the growth of trade proved relatively slow, it was initially interpreted as an economic hazard, a kind of after effect of the crisis. And yet the years are passing and - almost without exception over the last five years the forecasts put forward by international organisations, if we look to those made by the WTO, IMF and the World Bank regarding the development of world trade, are systematically too optimistic.

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