Global trade 'rebounds strongly' in first half of 2017: WTO

Geneva (AFP) –


The World Trade Organization on Thursday upped its forecast for global trade growth in 2017 thanks to stronger than expected demand for merchandise in Asia and North America.

A previous projection of 2.4 percent growth for this year has been boosted to 3.6 percent, the organization said in a press release, headlined "WTO upgrades forecast for 2017 as trade rebounds strongly".

"Growth of 3.6 percent would represent a substantial improvement on the lacklustre 1.3 percent increase in 2016," the Geneva-based body said.

The positive news comes after the WTO had for years warned of a lacklustre global trade climate that lingered in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The organisation has of late voiced particular concern about the possible impacts of rising protectionism in major economies -- notably from US President Donald Trump's administration -- that it said could dampen global commerce.

"The improved outlook for trade is welcome news, but substantial risks that threaten the world economy remain in place and could easily undermine any trade recovery," WTO director genera Roberto Azevedo said in a statement.

"These risks include the possibility that protectionist rhetoric translates into trade restrictive actions, a worrying rise in global geopolitical tensions and a rising economic toll from natural disasters," he added.