Inside Logistics

Global trade and economy slowed in 2019

Merchandise trade is predicted to drop by 2.4 percent to US$19 trillion


December 13, 2019
by

GENEVA After a continued surge last year, global trade and economic output have stagnated this year, according to UNCTAD’s report published in the 2019 Handbook of Statistics.

Merchandise trade is predicted to drop by 2.4 percent to US$19 trillion, after significant growth rates in 2018 (9.7 percent) and 2017 (10.7 percent). Trade in services is predicted to only increase by 2.7 percent to $6 trillion, a considerable deceleration from 7.7 percent in 2018 and 7.9 percent in 2017.

Real global economic output (gross domestic product) is now expected to grow by 2.3 percent this year, 0.7 percentage points less than last year.

“We see consistency across a range of indicators – the global economy is slowing,” said Steve MacFeely, UNCTAD’s chief statistician.

Last year, world merchandise trade increased by 2.3 percent in volume terms. The 9.7 percent increase in values could to a large extent be attributed to changes in prices. For example, fuel prices recorded substantial growth, year-on-year, during all the months of 2018, a trend that was reversed at the beginning of 2019, as UNCTAD’s free market commodity price index shows.

Maritime transport lost momentum in 2018. World seaborne trade volumes rose by only 2.7 percent, compared with 4.7 percent in 2017, and port container traffic grew by 4.7 percent, two percentage points less than the year before.

UNCTAD’s 2019 Handbook of Statistics depicts these and other major trends in statistics relevant to international trade and development, summarizing the broad spectrum of statistics maintained in the online database UNCTADstat.

The 2019 edition also extends to new domains, such as statistics on port calls and the time ships spent on ports.