Slowdown of Global Trade Growth Affects Russia

The World Trade Organization (WTO) expects growth of the mere 2.5% in global trade volumes on the basis of the results of 2012.  

In April, the WTO expected growth of 3.7%. The 2013 forecast was revised downward from 5.6% to 4.5%. From the date of the previous evaluation of the development of the global trade, global economic problems have aggravated: economic growth in China slowed down, the data on the level of unemployment and manufacturing in the US is worse than expected and the debt crisis in the euro area is far from being over.

In the past two decades, the volume of the global trade grew faster than the global economy in general (average growth of 6% a year). A drop in volumes of the global trade is a rare phenomenon and, except for a 12% reduction in 2009, in the past 50 years it took place only three times.

After the 2008–2009 crisis, the global foreign trade was recovering fast.  In 2010 and 2011, growth amounted to 13.9% and 5%, respectively. However, in 2012 growth rates slowed down. In the 2nd quarter of 2012, the volume of the global trade increased by the mere 0.3% as compared to the 1st quarter, while on a year-on-year basis, by 1.2%.

Slowdown of growth rates of the global trade in 2012 was caused by a drop in the imports by developed countries and, as a consequence, a decrease in the volume of export from developing countries. On the basis of the results of 2012, the WTO expects that the volume of import  by developed countries will increase by the mere  0.4%, while that of developing countries, by 5.4% (according to the April forecast growth of 1.9% and 6.2%, respectively, was anticipated). The forecast of the export volume growth was revised downward both in developed countries and developing countries from 2% to 1.5% and from 5.6% to 3.5%, respectively.

Slowdown of growth rates of the global trade affected Russia, as well. After growth of over 30% a year in the 2010–2011 period, during seven months of  2012 the Russian foreign trade turnover increased by 5% as compared to the same period of 2011. Export deliveries rose by 5.2%, while import ones, by 4.7%. It is to be noted that in April, June and July a drop in exports was registered as compared to the respective month of 2011, while in April, May and June a drop in imports was observed.  Such a situation can be explained by both a decrease in the global market demand in the main types of fuel and energy resources supplied from Russia and weakening of the domestic consumer and investment demand.  

N. P. Volovik, Head of the Foreign Economic Activities Department