Global trade growth is on track to slide further the first quarter of 2019, the World Trade Organization said. WTO in September said it expects world merchandise trade growth will slow to 3.7% this year down from 3.9% in 2018.
“These estimates could be revised downward if trade conditions continue to deteriorate,” the WTO said in its latest World Trade Outlook Indicator report released on Tuesday. “The simultaneous decline of several trade-related indicators should put policy makers on guard for a sharper slowdown should the current trade tensions remain unresolved.”
The quarterly WTO report registered “steep declines” in most indexes for export orders of air freight, automobile production, electronic components and agricultural raw materials. The organization said its trade assessment was the weakest since March 2010
The report comes as U.S. and Chinese officials hold talks in Washington, D.C. this week aimed at resolving their trade conflict. President Donald Trump has threatened to increase tariffs to 25% on US$ 200 billion worth of Chinese goods if negotiators are unable to forge an agreement by March 1.
The Geneva-based trade body previously warned that an array of trade conflicts is affecting business confidence and investment decisions. Last year the WTO cut its outlook for global commerce through 2019 and warned that tension between major trading partners is threatening economic growth.