The World Trade Organization (WTO) has admitted that global trade volumes this year will likely fall short of its previous predictions. It said Europe's struggle to combat its debt crisis was taking longer than expected.
The WTO global trade body said Wednesday there was no way of seeing 4.5-percent growth in global trade as predicted in its previous forecast. In its latest annual report, it predicted international trade activities to expand by only 3.3 percent throughout the current year.
The WTO thus indicated that only a meager improvement on 2012 was realistic: even against the year when exports were severely hampered by the financial turmoil in the 17-member euro area, the economic fallout from Japan's earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident, and the impact of political unrest in the Middle East.
Trade growth this year would also remain well below the 5.3-percent rate that had emerged as the average growth figure over the past two decades.
Attempts to shore up economies
WTO Director Pascal Lamy told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland, that trade was expected to rebound to some five-percent growth only in 2014, with that figure taking into account the total volume of merchandise exported across borders and accounting for changes in prices and exchange rates.
The total value of goods traded last year amounted to $18.3 trillion (14 trillion euros) and marked no significant change from a year earlier because of falling prices for many traded goods.
Pascal Lamy warned against measures restricting free trade on global markets.
"The threat of protectionism may be greater now than at any time since the start of the crisis, since other policies to restore growth have been tried and found wanting," Lamy said.
hg/msh (AP, Reuters, dpa)