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Risks lie ahead following stronger trade in 2006, WTO reports

Apr '07
Risks in financial and property markets and large trade imbalances in goods and services mean increased uncertainty in 2007 and raise the prospect of weaker economic and trade expansion in the coming year, according to WTO economists.

“A successful conclusion to the Doha Round holds great potential for boosting growth and alleviating poverty,” Director-General Pascal Lamy said. “An agreement would also deliver more relevant trade rules, helping to establish a more stable and certain foundation for today's dynamic global marketplace.”

In their preliminary assessment of trade in 2006 and prospects for the coming year, they said the consensus among forecasters of around 3% global economic growth in 2007 could slow merchandise trade growth to about 6% compared with 8% in 2006.

By contrast, the world economy and trade grew vigorously in 2006, the 8% expansion in merchandise trade being the second highest since 2000.

Growth in gross domestic product (GDP) — a measure of the size of the economy — was stronger than expected in Europe and Japan. The Chinese and Indian economies continued to record high growth.

Least-developed countries' trade grew by about 30%, fuelled by higher prices for petroleum and other primary commodities. They and developing countries as a whole saw their shares of world merchandise trade reach record proportions. And for some of the smaller suppliers, fear of a setback in textiles and clothing in the face of competition from China proved unfounded in 2006.

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