The Strategist

WTO Trade Barometer shows dead calm

08/19/2019 - 11:45

The growth rate of world trade in the third quarter of 2019 will remain below the trend line, as evidenced by the Trade Barometer indicator calculated by the World Trade Organization (WTO). In August, the index was 95.7 points (the figure less than 100 points indicates a decrease, more than 100 points means an increase). The level of all components of the index turned out to be below 100 points: there was 97.5 points for export orders; 93.5 points - for car deliveries, 99 points - for container turnover, 91.4 points - for air freight, 90.7 points - for electronics trade, 97.1 points - for agricultural raw materials. Compared to the value of the index in May, the strongest decline was noted in the supply of electronics.

According to statistics on world exports and imports, the growth in the turnover of trade in goods amounted to 1.2% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019 (no more recent data), while there was 4% - in the first quarter of 2018. In particular, due to new duties in July, the import of American goods to China decreased by 19% year-on-year (to $ 10.9 billion), while the export of Chinese goods to the United States fell by 6.5% to $ 38.8 billion. US duties of 25% now affect $ 250 billion of imports from China, China has introduced retaliatory duties of $ 110 billion of imports from the United States.

Starting September 1, the United States will impose ten percent duties on the remaining supply volume; Washington has delayed tariff increases for some products until December 1 (the tariffs concern mobile phones, personal computers, monitors, game consoles, as well as some types of toys, shoes, clothes, and a number of other goods). Beijing promised to retaliate if tariffs increase in September. Given that US imports totaled $ 155 billion last year, Beijing could expand duties by only $ 45 billion.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump said last week that the United States could exit the WTO altogether, “if necessary.” Mr. Trump pointed out that China and India should no longer benefit from the status of developing countries. It should be noted that now Washington is blocking the appointment of new judges in the WTO appeals body, insisting on reform of the organization. Unless the member countries develop an alternative mechanism, the organization will actually stop its work in December this year.