The World Trade Organization said March 1 that world merchandise trade growth “appears to have lost momentum in the fourth quarter of 2022 and is likely to remain weak in the first quarter of 2023.”

According to the most recent WTO Goods Trade Barometer (an indicator that provides real-time information on the trajectory of world merchandise trade relative to recent trends), the volume of world merchandise trade increased by an unexpectedly robust 5.6 percent from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2022 while cumulative year-on-year growth during the first three quarters of 2022 stood at 4.4 percent, above the WTO’s forecast of a 3.5 percent gain for the entire year. However, preliminary data suggest that world merchandise trade likely declined from the third to the fourth quarter of 2022.

The WTO notes that the expected fourth quarter fall is likely to be “broad-based, impacting many sectors” such as container shipping, air freight, electronic components, and raw materials. The WTO adds, however, that “the anticipated trade slowdown may be short lived, since container throughput of Chinese ports has already started to pick up.”

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