Global merchandise trade growth slowed at the end of 2022 and was likely to remain weak in the first quarter of this year, the World Trade Organization said on Wednesday.
However, the WTO said any slowdown may be short-lived given that container throughput at Chinese ports and new export orders have already started to pick up, the former following a sharp easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China.
The WTO said its goods trade barometer dropped to 92.2 points in March from 96.2 points in November, remaining well below the 100-point baseline dividing above- and below-trend trade volumes.
The WTO said the automotive component of the index was positive due to above-trend sales and production in the United States, Europe and Japan, outweighing a decline in China.
However, indices for container shipping, electronic components and raw materials were all below trend and declining.
The WTO goods trade barometer is a composite of data and is designed to anticipate turning points and gauge momentum in global trade growth rather than to provide a specific short-term forecast.