World Trade Report 2013

Factors Shaping the Future of World Trade

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The world is changing with extraordinary rapidity, driven by many influences, including shifts in production and consumption patterns, continuing technological innovation, new ways of doing business and, of course, policy. The World Trade Report 2013 focuses on how trade is both a cause and an effect of change and looks into the factors shaping the future of world trade. One of the most significant drivers of change is technology. Not only have revolutions in transport and communications transformed our world but new developments, such as 3D printing, and the continuing spread of information technology will continue to do so. Trade and foreign direct investment, together with a greater geographical spread of income growth and opportunity, will integrate a growing number of countries into more extensive international exchange. Higher incomes and larger populations will put new strains on both renewable and non-renewable resources, calling for careful resource management. Environmental issues will also call for increasing attention.

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Trade developments in 2012 and early 2013

World trade growth fell to 2.0 per cent in 2012 from 5.2 per cent in 2011, and remained sluggish in the opening months of 2013 as the economic slowdown in Europe suppressed global import demand. The abrupt deceleration of trade in 2012 was mainly attributable to slow growth in developed economies and recurring bouts of uncertainty over the future of the euro. Flagging output and high unemployment in developed countries reduced imports and fed through to a lower pace of export growth in both developed and developing economies. More positive economic developments in the United States in the early months of 2013 were offset by lingering weakness in the European Union, as peripheral euro area economies continued to struggle and even core euro area economies increasingly felt the impact of the downturn in the region.

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