For world trade, a strong but incomplete rebound in 2021

World goods trade recovered strongly in the second half of 2020 and by mid2021 should be expanding at a double-digit annual pace. But the rebound is uneven, and this, plus coronavirus-related uncertainties, means risks around our baseline forecast are large.

The trade rebound varies highly across regions, economies, and sectors. Pacific trade has bounced especially robustly, but a more muted upturn is visible elsewhere. Transport and travel remain deeply depressed, weighing on services trade. Goods trade is doing better than services, but sectors like food and consumer goods are far outpacing capital goods.

Our baseline forecast looks for world trade in goods and services to rise 8% this year after a 9% decline in 2020. In an upside scenario featuring faster vaccine rollout, trade could grow by over 12%. But in a downside scenario with slower vaccine rollout and renewed infection surges, the trade recovery would stall and be delayed to 2022.

Topics: Coronavirus