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Global Trade Recovery Is ‘Strong but Unequal,’ W.T.O. Says

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Global Trade Recovery Is ‘Strong but Unequal,’ W.T.O. Says

The World Trade Organization’s director general said global trade recovered faster than anticipated in the first half of 2021, but that uneven vaccine access was exacerbating an economic divergence across regions.

With two quarters of trade and G.D.P. data for 2021 already in hand, it has become clear that the pace of trade recovery is closer to our optimistic scenario from March. This has led the W.T.O. to upgrade its projections for merchandise trade in 2021 and 2022. Our economists now estimate that the volume of world merchandise trade will increase by 10.8 percent in 2021, and then by 4.7 percent in 2022. These upward revisions to our merchandise trade numbers are good news, but not cause for complacency about the global economy or the multilateral trading system. The trade recovery is strong but unequal, mirroring the K-shaped recovery in global economic output. Some regions, those with access to vaccines and sufficient fiscal space are recovering strongly, while poorer regions with mostly unvaccinated populations are lagging behind. Moreover, the risks to the outlook are firmly on the downside. The pandemic itself is far from over, and new outbreaks and variants of Covid-19 could weigh on trade and output through 2022.

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