Por Franklin Castrellón
The prolonged nine-year low economic cycle that began in September 2008 with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers bank, driven by excesses in the commercialization of subprime mortgages, seems to have come to an end. A rebound is seen beginning to consolidate world trade, starting in the last quarter of 2016.
The Netherlands Bureau of Economic Policy and Analysis (CPB) reported that, in terms of volume, world trade grew by 2.4% in the first quarter of 2017, the highest reading since August 2010. The volume is a better indicator of the behavior of trade than the value, since the latter depends on factors not necessarily linked to its growth.
In this regard, the economic researcher of that agency of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Jos Ebregt, commented that “we may be seeing some acceleration” in world trade after weak growth in 2016.
The rebound was led by emerging economies, whose exports grew 4.2% in that quarter, while their imports increased by 4%. The report highlights the excellent performance of Latin American exports, whose trade volume increased by 8.1%, while Central and Eastern Europe increased by 5.9% and Asia by 4%.
The report underscores the 5% increase in imports from Asia, one of the world’s most influential regions in world trade, alongside the United States. However, developed economies recorded a moderate increase of 1.7% in their exports and a 0.5% increase in imports.
Commenting on the report, Capital Economics economist Simon MacAdam said that this suggests that “the recovery in world trade, that appeared to settle at the end of last year, has continued in 2017.” He added that “the indicators point to even stronger trade growth”.
Capital Economics is one of the leading companies in the world dedicated to economic research. It has offices in London, New York, Toronto (Canada), Sydney (Australia) and Singapore.
Maersk and UN projections on
CPB’s report coincides with projections made for 2017 by Rene Piil Pedersen, Maersk Group’s representative for Asia Pacific during a panel of experts recently held by Seatrade in Singapore, and is more optimistic than the most recent UN agency analysis for 2017.
Pedersen recalled that cargo volumes moved by container ships will increase by between 2% and 4% in 2017 – an increase of 1.5 to 2.0% over those registered in 2016 – driven by growing demand in the United States, Europe, China and the major oil-exporting countries.
For its part, the United Nations system estimates a 2.7% growth in world trade in 2017, with a significant improvement of 3.3% in 2018. The United Nations analysis involves its Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) , the Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the five regional commissions for Africa (ECA), Europe (ECE), Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
The surge in international trade will put pressure on port services. A study by the Latin American Development Bank (CAF) reveals that the ports of the region will require a $50 billion investment over the next 25 years to meet the growing demand from world trade.
The CAF estimates that during that period, cargo traffic will triple in the region, from 48 million to 150 million Teus (twenty foot container equivalents). This growth will be led by Mexico, but Panama will play a key role as a regional center for trade and cargo transshipment. Of the long-term requirements, the study highlights that of the $50 billion, Mexico will concentrate 24 percent, Panama 16% and Brazil 13%.