Merchandise trade volume declined in Q3 while trade values continued to rise

The volume of world merchandise trade fell 0.8% in the third quarter of 2021 after four consecutive quarters of strong expansion, as supply chain disruptions, shortages of production inputs and rising COVID-19 cases weighed on trade growth.

Despite strong headwinds contributing to the decline in the third quarter, trade volume was still up 11.9% for the year-to-date through September. This is slightly worse than the WTO's most recent trade forecast of 4 October, which anticipated a 12.7% rise over the same period. The forecast of a 10.8% increase in merchandise trade for the whole of 2021 could still be realized if fourth quarter data show a pickup in volume growth. This is a real possibility since measures to unblock container ports on the west coast of the United States have met with some success. Also, even though the WTO's Goods Trade Barometer has signalled a cooling of trade growth in the closing months of 2021, it still remains on trend.

This is an excerpt from a 20 December 2021 World Trade Organization (WTO) article.