Whilst economists fret about the possibility of a "double-dip" recession in the Western economies and speculate about a crash in China, the World Trade Organization has produced a startlingly optimistic portrait of the prospects for world trade.
In parallel with its publication of world trade statistics for 2009, the WTO has predicted a rapid return to growth in the world trading system which will drive levels of economic activity to levels approaching that of 2008. It sees trade in 2010 growing by 9.5 percent overall, with exports from the developed economies growing by 7.5 percent whilst the rest of the world will grow by 11 percent.
Of course one of the reasons why trade may grow at such a furious speed this year is that it is rebounding from its precipitous fall in 2009. As Patrick Low, the WTO's chief economist, pointed out, the collapse in world trade last year was unprecedented in the past half-century, with trade falling by 12 percent.
Such a rebound would be good news for the global logistics industry. The WTO suggests that sectors with structural over-capacity problems, such as container shipping, will be presented with the opportunity to recover.
The WTO does place a number of caveats around its forecasts. For example it states that there are "significant risks that the forecast could be over-optimistic, including the possibility of further increases in oil prices, appreciation or depreciation of major currencies, and additional adverse developments in financial markets". These are substantial reasons for caution.
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