Global Goods Trade Hit by Tensions and Rising Tariffs, WTO Says

Global trade in goods will likely remain below trend through the current quarter due to heightened tensions and rising tariffs in key sectors, according to a World Trade Organization report.

The Geneva-based body’s latest forward-looking Goods Trade Barometer stood at 96.6 for September, compared with a level of 95.7 for June. Readings of 100 indicate growth over the following quarter in line with medium-term trends, while those above 100 suggest above-trend growth. A reading below 100 indicates below-trend expansion.

The WTO last month slashed its global trade growth projection for 2019 to the weakest level in a decade, citing rising trade tensions and Brexit-related uncertainty. The volume of merchandise trade will likely increase by 1.2% this year and 2.7% next year, after a 3% advance in 2018, the organization said.

Gauges of international air freight, electronic components, and raw materials “have all deteriorated further below trend,” the latest report showed. Electronic components trade was “weakest of all, possibly reflecting recent tariff hikes.”

At the same time, measures of export orders, automotive products and container shipping have “firmed up into on-trend territory.”