The World Trade Organization (WTO) says it expects the global trade to expand by merely 1.7 percent in 2016 – what it says will be the lowest level since the 2009 financial crisis.
The new figure of 1.7 percent, down from the WTO's previous estimate of 2.8 percent in April, marked the first time in 15 years international commerce was seen lagging the growth of the world economy, the trade body said.
The Organization has also revised the growth for 2017 at between 1.8 percent and 3.1 percent, down from 3.6 percent. This, analysts have emphasized, reflects a slowdown in China and falling levels of imports into the United States.
"The dramatic slowing of trade growth is serious and should serve as a wake-up call. It is particularly concerning in the context of growing anti-globalization sentiment,” WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo has been quoted by the media as saying.
"We need to make sure that this does not translate into misguided policies that could make the situation much worse, not only from the perspective of trade but also for job creation and economic growth and development which are so closely linked to an open trading system," the media have quoted him as saying.
Trade has grown 1.5 times faster than gross domestic product over the long-term, and twice as fast when globalization picked up in the 1990s, according to the report.
The WTO added that this year trade will grow only 80 percent as fast as the global economy. It said this will be “the first reversal of globalization since 2001 and only the second since 1982.”
Export growth in 2016 was downgraded for most regions, with the strongest revisions applied to Asia.
The WTO also said growth will slow in the UK in 2017, but it will not fall into recession.