Coronavirus Trade Slump Likely to Exceed 2008 Global Financial Crisis — WTO

09 Avril, 2020, 04:35 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • WTO chief Roberto Azevedo gave the warning during a virtual news conference

The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Wednesday forecast that goods trade would shrink more steeply this year than during the global financial crisis a decade ago, and then rebound in 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes - provided countries work together.

The WTO says that while the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic invites comparisons to the global financial crisis of 2008-09, the two global events are also very different.

"These numbers are ugly - there is no getting around that", said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo.

"COVID-19 has completely upended the global economy and with it worldwide trade", WTO chief Roberto Azevedo told reporters in a virtual briefing from Geneva.

"This crisis is first and foremost a health crisis, which has forced governments to take unprecedented measures to protect people's lives", Azevêdo said.

"In an optimistic scenario, our economists see the volume of global merchandise trade falling by 13 percent this year compared to 2019", Azevedo said. It displays a steep drop in trade adopted by a restoration beginning in the second half of 2020. Trade will be an important ingredient here, along with fiscal and monetary policy.

"The immediate goal is to bring the pandemic under control and mitigate the economic damage to people, companies and countries". "There is no way around that".

"As we face what may well be the deepest economic recession or downturn of our lifetimes, we should aim to make the most of all potential drivers of sustainable growth to reverse this situation", he told a virtual news conference in Geneva.

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The organisation also said that merchandise trade volume already fell 0.1% in 2019, weighed down by trade tensions and slowing economic growth.

In apparel, preliminary estimates by WTO economists indicate the value of exports stagnated in 2019, with nearly zero growth from the $494 billion notched in 2018.

Services are not included in the WTO's forecast, but the WTO said trade in this area may be hit hardest by COVID-19 because of transport and travel restrictions.

However, the situation has taken a dramatic turn since COVID-19 first emerged in China late past year.

"After the financial crisis of 2008-09, trade never returned to its previous trend..."

"Whole sectors of national economies have been shut down, including hotels, restaurants, non-essential retail trade, tourism and significant shares of manufacturing". "A strong rebound is more likely if businesses and consumers view the pandemic as a temporary, one-time shock", the WTO said.

"A turn towards protectionism would introduce new shocks on top of those we are now enduring", Azevedo said. He said keeping markets open and predictable would be critical.

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