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WTO raises 2021 trade forecast amid vaccine roll-out

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has revised its growth forecast for global goods trade this year up, but said the outlook was clouded by risks from the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines and the possible emergence of vaccineresistant strains. According to Reuters, WTO Director-General, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, told a news conference yesterday that vaccine had given the world a chance of stopping the disease and jump-starting the economy.

“But this opportunity could be squandered if large numbers of countries and people do not have equal access to vaccines,” she was quoted as saying. WTO is forecasting merchandise trade will grow this year by 8.0 per cent after a fall of 5.3 per cent in 2020. That compares with October figures of respectively 7.2 per cent growth and a 9.2 per cent decline.

It forecast 4.0 per cent growth in 2022. The WTO said shortterm risks were “firmly on the downside” and centred on pandemicrelated factors. The Geneva-based trade body said accelerated vaccine distribution and faster lockdown easing could add 2.5 percentage points to trade, which would then return to its pre-pandemic trend in the fourth quarter. However, poor vaccine roll-outs and new variants could lower trade growth by nearly two percentage points. Okonjo-Iweala said she planned to meet vaccine manufacturers and civil groups mid-April to understand how vaccine production could be expanded, particularly in emerging markets, and how investment could be spread wider in future.

 

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