The high annual growth rate of global merchandise trade in 2021 is mainly due to the decline in global trade in 2020. Due to the low base, the second quarter of 2021 will increase by 22.0% year-on-year, but it is expected that the third and fourth quarters will drop to year-on-year growth of 10.9% and 6.6%. The WTO expects global GDP to grow by 5.3% in 2021, higher than the 5.1% forecast in March this year. By 2022, this growth rate will slow to 4.1%.
At present, the downside risks of global commodity trade are still very prominent, including the tight global supply chain and the situation of the new crown pneumonia epidemic. It is expected that the regional gap in the rebound of global merchandise trade will remain large. In 2021, Asian imports will increase by 9.4% over 2019, while imports from the least developed countries will fall by 1.6%. Global trade in services may lag behind trade in goods, especially in industries related to tourism and leisure.
The biggest uncertainty in global merchandise trade comes from the epidemic. The WTO’s current latest upward forecast for global merchandise trade depends on a series of assumptions, including accelerated production and distribution of vaccines.