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.
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.
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.