Renewed dynamism in global merchandise trade in 2024


Global merchandise trade could start to show a modest increase in the first quarter of 2024, after performing poorly in 2023, according to the latest barometer from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“The merchandise trade barometer, which displays 100.6, is higher than the quarterly transaction volume index and slightly higher than the reference value of 100,” explains the WTO in a press release, noting that geopolitical tensions continue to pose a downside risk to the near-term outlook.

The Goods Trade Barometer is a composite leading indicator of global trade that provides real-time information on changes in merchandise trade relative to recent trends. A value above 100 indicates that trading volume is above trend, while a value below 100 indicates that commodity trading has fallen, or will soon fall, below trend.

“Goods trade is expected to continue to gradually recover during the first months of 2024, but any uptick in activity could easily be thwarted by regional conflicts and geopolitical tensions,” underlines the same source.

In the third quarter of 2023, the volume of global merchandise trade decreased by 0.4% compared to the previous quarter and by 2.5% compared to the same period of the previous year. The third-quarter drop was driven by strong growth in the first three quarters of 2022, the WTO notes.

Between January and October 2023, trade in goods was stable, with the volume of the third quarter being practically unchanged since the start of the year and having increased by only 3.2% over two years, adds the same source.

The indices making up the barometer are for the most part neutral, it is specified, noting that the indices for export orders (101.7) and air freight (102.3) in particular have increased slightly above trend, while those of container shipping (98.6) and raw materials (99.1) remain slightly below trend. The Automotive Products Index (106.3), meanwhile, is well above trend, although it has lost momentum recently.

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