Global goods trade bounces back from pandemic

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The UN notes that trade seems to be bouncing back, but urged caution against being too optimistic.

The global goods trade is bouncing back from the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report has suggested.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the value of the trade of merchandise goods reached $5.6 trillion (€4.9 trillion) during the third quarter of 2021.

This was a record high, with global trade also forecast to reach a total of around $28 trillion for the year as a whole, up nearly a quarter on last year's figures.

However, while this news appears to provide much to celebrate, the report did highlight that economic recovery has been patchy from country to country.

For example, while China and Taiwan could be set to see growth of 16 and 23 per cent respectively this year, the economies of Japan and Singapore are likely to decline by nine and five per cent.

The UN also said economies in the European Union may continue to face disruptions in consumer demand related to the pandemic, with goods trade in the UK in particular forecast to shrink by 23 per cent compared to 2019 levels.

It was also stressed that a number of factors could have an effect on the continued recovery from COVID-19, including logistics disruption, the global semiconductor shortage, individual government policies and geopolitical tensions.

The UN warned that the biggest threat, though, is the as-yet unknown effects of the heavily mutated virus strain referred to as Omicron. This, it said, may shake confidence worldwide as it continues to spread and impact economies if governments introduce strict containment measures again.

"The forecast for 2022 remains very uncertain," UNCTAD concluded.

It comes after the DHL Global Connectedness 2021 Index Update discovered that COVID-19 does not seem to have affected globalization as much as had been feared.

The research noted that trade, capital flows and global internet traffic have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels, while some damaging trade wars were set aside in a united front against the virus.