According to the analysis published in its latest Economic Outlook, Crédito y Caución forecasts that the final data on world trade growth in 2021 will confirm that international trade has returned to pre-pandemic levels. After an increase that will be between 8% and 10% in 2021, the credit insurer anticipates that the evolution will slow down to the 5% to 6% ranges for 2022 and 3% to 4% for 2023. “It signals a return to a normal growth pattern, with global trade growth more or less keeping pace with GDP, as opposed to the swings of double GDP seen in 2020 and 2021,” the report explains.
The Economic Outlook highlights the uneven evolution of global trade in goods and services. Trade in goods has picked up significantly thanks to strong demand for automotive, electronics and outdoor goods. Despite supply chain bottlenecks in the second half of the year, it remains firmly above the pre-pandemic level. However, trade in services is recovering slowly, weighed down by remaining pandemic constraints. It is still 5% below its 2019 levels, a rate that rises to 47% in the case of the tourism segment.
Regional developments reflect this picture. China’s trade growth has slowed due to the base effect of its unusual level of trade in 2020. The rest of emerging Asia shows growth above the global average linked to its prominent role in goods manufacturing. In the advanced economies, trade grew strongly in the United States driven by the huge stimulus packages. Developments in the Eurozone are more in line with the world average. The loss of trade exchanges in the second and third quarters of 2021 is widespread and especially visible in China, the United States and Latin America.
Crédito y Caución does not expect the bottlenecks hindering global trade to fully dissipate until 2023. Through 2022 they will be relieved by the progressive shift of demand to services and port decongestion, but it will take time to expand capacity in shipping and semiconductor transport. The credit insurer’s report also stresses that the threat of expanding U.S. trade wars with China and the European Union has diminished.