Autos and electronics boost global trade

Industry News | | MIC Customs Solutions |

New figures from the WTO reveal shipments of electronics and automotive products helped drive a continued recovery in global trade in the third quarter of 2020.


The trade of manufactured goods enjoyed a significant recovery in the third quarter of 2020, with categories including automotive products and consumer electronics leading the way.

This is according to new figures from the World Trade Organization, which found that while volumes remain down on 2019 due to the impact of the coronavirus, they are much closer to pre-pandemic levels.

Between July and September, trade in manufactured goods was down by five per cent year-on-year. This compared to a year-on-year drop of 19 per cent for the previous three-month period.

Automotive products, which made up 11 per cent of manufactured goods, saw especially strong performance as manufacturers boosted production in order to cope with the release of pent-up consumer demand.

For the third quarter as a whole, trade volumes were down by 13 per cent in this sector. However, even month-to-month, there was a notable improvement, as the year-on-year figures were down 19 per cent in July, but just eight per cent below 2019 levels in September.

The WTO noted this marks a "substantial improvement" over Q2, when supply disruptions and plunging demand in the early stages of the pandemic caused a fall of 53 per cent in trade volumes, the biggest decrease for any manufactured goods sector. 

Elsewhere, trade in computers and electronic components increased in the third quarter by 11 per cent and ten per cent respectively. This was on top of positive growth in Q2.

However, the WTO did observe that telecommunications equipment, including smartphones,  surprisingly fell by 11 per cent in September compared to the same month in 2019. This was mainly due to a drop of 13 per cent in Chinese exports, which the organization suggested may indicate a saturation of the market. 

Textile shipments also performed well, largely driven by continued demand for face masks and other personal protective equipment. However, pharmaceutical trade contracted by one per cent in Q3, compared with a ten per cent rise in the previous quarter. This suggests an end to stockpiling, especially in Europe.