World trade is projected to grow 2.6 per cent in 2019: WTO - GulfToday

World trade is projected to grow 2.6 per cent in 2019: WTO

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Shoppers walk along a street in a shopping district of Seoul on Thursday. Agence France-Presse

Mounting trade tensions, an increase in trade-restrictive measures and continuing economic uncertainty created real challenges for world trade in 2018, with trade projected to grow by just 2.6 per cent this year, according to the 2019 World Trade Organisation, WTO, report.

“These factors and a deceleration in overall economic activity slowed momentum in global trade, restricting merchandise trade growth to 3 per cent compared with 4.6 per cent in 2017,›” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, in a forward message in the report.

“This downward trend is expected to continue in 2019, with trade projected to grow by just 2.6 per cent. If trade growth is to bounce back in 2020, it is vital we resolve tensions and create an environment where trade can play its full part in driving economic growth and reducing poverty,›” he added.

To chart a positive path forward for world trade, he continued, WTO members are discussing ways to strengthen the trading system to enable it to better respond to the challenges of today’s economy, including rapid technological change which is creating huge shifts in patterns of employment.

“In 2018, work continued to advance negotiations in a number of areas, including agriculture and fisheries subsidies,›› he indicated.

“Groups of WTO members are also discussing so-called joint initiatives, which include electronic commerce, small and medium-sized enterprises, facilitation of investments, and the economic empowerment of women. While not all members are participating, these talks are open to everyone and are gaining momentum.›› “In the area of e-commerce, for example, over 70 WTO members confirmed in January their intention to commence WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects,” he said.

“By the end of 2018, over 80 per cent of WTO members had ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which is projected to slash trade costs by 14 per cent once fully implemented, and many have already seen the benefits of a faster flow of goods across borders.›› ‹›As we move into 2019, the global trading system continues to face significant challenges. There is an urgent need to ease trade tensions, resolve systemic issues and further modernise our rulebook. By doing so, we can ensure that the WTO continues to provide stability and predictability for trading nations large and small, thereby supporting growth, development and job creation around the world,›” he concluded.

The 2019 Annual Report provides a comprehensive account of the WTO›s activities in 2018 and early 2019 and gives a brief overview of the past year followed by in-depth accounts of the WTO›s main areas of major events and activities over the past 12 months.

Exports generated by international tourism reached US$1.7 trillion in 2018, a 4 per cent increase in real terms over the previous year, a new report from the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) shows.

For the seventh year in a row, tourism exports grew faster than merchandise exports (+3 per cent), reflecting solid demand for international travel in a generally robust economic environment.

Strong growth in outbound travel from many source markets around the world fuelled revenues from international tourism to reach a total USD1.7 trillion. This accounts for 29 per cent of global service exports and 7percent of overall exports of goods and services. These figures consolidate international tourism among the top five economic sectors in the world, behind chemical manufacturing and the fuel industry but ahead of the food and automotive industries.

“Rather than growing in volume we need to grow in value. We are pleased to see that both emerging and advanced economies around the world are benefiting from rising tourism income,» said WTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili. “Revenues from international tourism translate into jobs, entrepreneurship and a better situation for people and local economies, while reducing trade deficits in many countries» he added.

Total exports from international tourism include $1,448 billion in international tourism receipts (visitor spending in destinations) and $256 billion in international passenger transport services. Tourism constitutes a key source of foreign exchange and a major tool for export diversification for many destinations.

International tourism receipts increased 4 per cent in real terms (adjusting for exchange rate fluctuations and inflation) to reach $1,448 billion in 2018, about $100 billion more than the previous year. This is consistent with the 6 per cent increase in international tourist arrivals in 2018.

By regions, Asia and the Pacific led the way with 7 per cent growth in international tourism receipts, followed by Europe with a 5 per cent increase. The Middle East saw 3 per cent growth, while Africa (+1 per cent) and the Americas (0 per cent) recorded more modest results. Central and Eastern Europe and North-East Asia (both +9 per cent) were the subregions with the strongest growth. Growth in receipts was fuelled by strong demand for international travel in the context of a robust global economy.

Among the world’s top ten source markets, France and the Russian Federation both recorded 11 per cent growth in outbound spending in 2018, while Australia saw a 10 per cent increase.

WAM