Global Trade Growth May Ease by Half This Year, WTO’s Low Says

Global trade growth may decline by as much as half this year compared with 2010 as commerce returns to a “normal trend,” said Patrick Low, chief economist at the World Trade Organization.

“If we have 13.5 percent for last year, this year will be somewhat half of that growth” because trade expanded at such a fast past in 2010 after the slowdown of 2009, Low said in an interview today in Hong Kong. “You may call it a slowdown, but I would say it’s a return to the normal trend.”

The WTO predicted in September that global trade would expand 13.5 percent in 2010, fueled by growth in Asia led by China and India, after falling the most since World War II in 2009 amid the financial crisis.

Global trade growth showed some signs of moderation in the fourth quarter, Low said. Higher oil prices and food costs pose risks to trade because they “tend to slow growth,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sophie Leung in Hong Kong at sleung59@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst at ppanckhurst@bloomberg.net

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