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Global trade jumps five-fold in 28 years – WTO

Global trade jumps five-fold in 28 years – WTO

The World Trade Organisation (WTO), an intergovernmental organisation in Switzerland, recorded a five-fold continued increase in global trade of over $30 trillion from 1995 to 2023.

In a report to mark its 30th anniversary, WTO, which was established on April 15, 1994, after the signing of the Marrakesh Agreement, highlighted that between 1995 and 2023, total world trade in goods and commercial services surged, averaging 5.8 percent year-on-year.

Trade in commercial services outpaced goods trade, with an average annual increase of 6.8 percent, compared to 5.5 percent for goods.

The growth of world trade outpaced that of global gross domestic product, which increased by an average of 4.4 percent per year over the same period.

The global trade-to-GDP ratio showed a significant increase from 20 percent in 1995 to 31 percent in 2022, before falling back to 29 in 2023, as goods trade declined in value terms on a balance-of-payments basis.

However, tariffs had declined markedly under the WTO, helping to reduce trade costs.

According to the report, this trade growth has coincided with a significant decrease in poverty worldwide, indicating the impact of trade on supporting economic development and improving people’s lives.

“The 30 years since the WTO’s creation have ushered in a new era of trade and economic growth,” the report said.

It added that it indicates the growing connection of economies through trade, despite temporary declines during the global financial crisis of 2008 to 2009 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“The share of services in trade and digitally delivered services is growing. The past three decades have also witnessed a growing share of services in global trade,” the report added.

“We are making progress towards global trade recovery, thanks to resilient supply chains and a solid multilateral trading framework — which are vital for improving livelihoods and welfare. We must mitigate risks like geopolitical strife and trade fragmentation to maintain economic growth and stability,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela, director-general of WTO said.