World trade grew by 4.2 per cent year-on-year from January through June.
Much of the increase is attributed to a resurgence of trade flows in Asia, where exports rose 7.3 per cent and imports jumped 8.9 per cent. Stronger growth in the US and China has boosted demand for imports. Trade has also seen meaningful increases in North America (with import and export gains of 3.9 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively) and Europe (up 1.2 per cent and 2.6 per cent).
The fact that trade growth is now more synchronized across regions than it has been for many years could make the current expansion self-reinforcing. Such an outcome would be more likely if countries continue to resist the temptations of protectionism and work together to ensure that gains from trade are both large and widely shared.
However trade growth is expected to slow to 3.2 per cent in 2018. The renegotiation of Nafta and the uncertain nature of the trade relationship between the European Union and the departing United Kingdom could unsettle global and regional trade. In addition, monetary policy changes could provoke shifts in prices and exchange rates that would strongly influence trade patterns. Protectionist rhetoric could translate into trade restrictions.