Global merchandise trade volumes declined by 14.3% in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the previous period as COVID-19 containment measures affected economies around the world according to data released on 23 September. The latest trade contraction is sharper than the 10.2% drop recorded during the financial crisis between the third quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009.

wto merchandize trade value

In the latest data, the steepest declines were recorded in Europe (‑21%) and North America (‑20%) while Asia was relatively less affected (-7%).

The nominal dollar value of merchandise trade also plunged in the second quarter, falling by 21% year-on-year. In comparison, the decline in merchandise trade values during the financial crisis was deeper with a 33% drop recorded in the second quarter of 2009.

Monthly estimates

In terms of monthly performance, the dollar value of world merchandise trade fell 23% in April year-on-year and 26% in May before easing to a 10% contraction in June as countries in Europe started to relax lockdown measures while some Asian economies saw a modest rebound. In July, merchandise trade remained weakened at -9%. The monthly estimates are based on data from 72 economies accounting for 92% of global merchandise trade.

The decrease in world services trade was more pronounced, dropping by 29% year-on-year in both April and May, 24% in June and 22% in July, based on preliminary statistics of 38 economies representing more than two-thirds of global services trade. In July, services exports from North American economies were down 30% while in Asia, China’s services exports stopped declining, reflecting the divergent trajectory of the pandemic across regions.