Higher oil prices lifted merchandise trade values in 2018: WTO

GENEVA, Nominal trade values rose in 2018 due to a combination of volume and price changes with world merchandise exports totalled US$ 19.48 trillion, an increase of 10 per cent from the previous year, according to the World Trade Statistical Review 2019 issued by the World Trade Organisation, WTO, on Monday.

The World Trade Statistical Review noted that the rise was partly due to higher oil prices, which were up roughly 20 percent for the whole of 2018. However, oil prices fell 25 percent between October and December as negative economic news and economic uncertainty reduced expected demand for energy in the near future.

The report showed that all regions recorded increased exports in 2018, both in terms of volume and US dollar values. The same was true on the import side, with the sole exception of the Middle East, whose imports were down 3.3 percent in volume terms but up 0.9 percent in current US dollar terms. Import volumes increased by 5.0 per cent in both North America and Asia. In the case of North America, this represented an acceleration from 4.0 percent the previous year, while in Asia’s case it marked a deceleration from 8.3 percent in 2017. European import volume growth was sluggish, slowing to 1.0 percent in 2018 from 2.9 per cent in 2017. Import volumes in South and Central America continued to recover from their steep decline between 2014 and 2016, with an increase of 5.2 percent in 2018. Other regions collectively recorded weak import growth of 0.5 percent.

The region with the highest yearly export growth in volume terms, it added, was the Commonwealth of Independent States at 4.9 percent, followed by North America at 4.3 percent. With exports valued at US$ 7.11 trillion and imports at US$ 7.15 trillion in 2018, Europe accounted for 37 percent of world merchandise trade on both the export and import side. Asia’s exports of US$ 6.91 trillion gave it a 34 percent share while its imports of US$ 6.76 trillion accounted for 33 percent of the world total. North America’s exports and imports of US$ 2.56 trillion and US$ 3.56 trillion accounted for shares of 14 percent and 18 percent in world exports and imports, respectively.

”Despite their weak export volume growth, the oil-rich regions of Africa, the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States saw their export revenues surge in 2018, with increases of 13 percent, 21 per cent and 24 percent respectively in the US$ value of their exports,” the report said.

Source: Emirates News Agency