Global trade fell about 14 percent in 2015, making it the worst year since the financial crisis triggered the worst recession in decades.
Weakness in emerging markets like China was the primary culprit for last year’s slump, which is casting a pall over the two-day meeting of G-20 central bank governors and financers ministers starting on Friday, according to a report in The Financial Times
Signs of lackluster commercial activity are showing up in current indicators like the Baltic Dry Index, a measure of global trade in bulk commodities, which is near historic lows. China said in January that imports and exports fell, which has contributed to Brazil’s worst recession in more than 100 years, the newspaper reported.
U.S. exports fell 6.3 percent in 2015 as the dollar strengthened with the expectation that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates for the first time in nine years. Higher interest rates boost demand for dollar-denominated investments and limit the supply of credit.
“On a global level, most indicators suggest that trade growth will remain very weak,” Andrew Kenningham, senior global economist for Capital Economics, told the FT. “But we do not believe world trade is about to fall off a cliff.”
Meanwhile, Citigroup Inc. says the likelihood of a global recession are pronounced.
"In our view, global growth is at a highly precarious point, after 2-3 years of relative calm,” Citibank economist Willem Buiter said in a note
"The long-standing fragilities in the world economy relate to the structural and cyclical slowdowns in China and its unsustainable exchange rate regime, the excessive level of debt across many countries and sectors and ongoing regional and geopolitical uncertainty," he said.
The bank revised its forecast for growth in advanced economies from 2.4 percent to 1.6 percent, and said the 2016 figure "could well be lower."
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