The World Trade Organization on Wednesday dramatically lowered its global trade forecast for 2023, as Russia’s war in Ukraine and other shocks take their toll on the world economy.
Presenting a revision of their annual trade forecast, WTO economists said they expected the volume of global merchandise trade to grow 3.5 percent this year, which is slightly higher than their expectations in April.
But they forecast it would grow by only one percent in 2023 — dramatically down from their expectations of 3.4 percent growth six months ago.
“The picture for 2023 has darkened considerably,” WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told reporters in Geneva.
“Today the global economy faces multi-prong crises. Monetary tightening is weighing on growth across much of the world.”
As for the global economy as a whole, WTO economists stuck with their April forecast of 2.8 percent gross domestic product growth this year, but said growth in 2023 was now expected to be just 2.3 percent — down a full percentage point from the previous forecast.
By way of comparison, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has maintained its 2022 forecast at 3 percent, and expects 2.2 percent growth next year.
The International Monetary Fund, meanwhile, forecasts growth at 3.2 percent this year and 2.9 percent in 2023.
The WTO pointed out that its April forecasts were presented only weeks into the start of Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine, making them very uncertain.
The estimates for 2023 “now appear overly optimistic, as energy prices have skyrocketed, inflation has become more broad-based, and the war shows no sign of letting up,” it said.
The WTO said surging energy prices in Europe, stemming from the war in Ukraine, were expected to squeeze household spending and raise manufacturing costs on the continent.
Meanwhile, monetary policy tightening in the US was hitting the housing, motor vehicle and fixed investment sectors, and China was still grappling with COVID
-19 outbreaks and production disruptions.
Furthermore, the growing import bills for fuel, food and fertilizer risked leading to more food insecurity and debt distress in developing countries, the WTO said.