WTO warning bolstered by patchy economic news

By GENN

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The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has warned that the global economic recovery from the pandemic “remains highly uncertain” after the sharpest fall in commerce since the financial crisis.

Officials suggested that there was the prospect of an “L-shaped recovery, rather than V-shaped trajectory” after global trade fell to a record low in Q2.

It’s current WTO barometer – which monitors international trade levels in real time – dropped to 84.5, where readings of 100+ indicate trade growth in line with medium-term trends.

The warnings came as new and mixed economic data emerged from a number of global economic nodes.

In Hong Kong, the jobless rate fell slightly to 6.1 per cent after nine straight months of increasing levels of unemployment – putting pressure on consumption.

Elsewhere, despite national debt topping GBP2 trillion for the first time ever, Britain’s economic activity rose to a seven-year high in July with the composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) jumping to 60.3 from 57 – well above what economists had forecast, while retail sales grew 2% in July.

There was less good news however in Europe, where evidence suggests that the recovery is stumbling after an initial bounce-back after the composite PMI dropped to 51.6 from 54.9 – still in growth territory, however the loss in momentum was unexpected and comes as coronavirus cases grow.

Meanwhile in the US, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefit grew above one million in the preceding week according to the US Labor Department – against economists’ forecasts.

The data serves as a timely reminder of the importance of reducing barriers to trade and for track and trace systems to be implemented as quickly as possible. The global economic recovery rests on the confidence of consumers and businesses to be able to go out, spend and invest.

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