Growth in world trade is losing momentum

DHL Global Trade Barometer: India continues to grow fastest, with weakest growth forecasts in the UK

Growth in world trade is losing momentum

Global trade will continue to grow over the next three months. This is the conclusion of the latest DHL Global Trade Barometer (GTB). With an overall index of 61 points, the GTB’s analysis of international air and containerized ocean trade flows indicates that the development of the previous quarters will continue. Indices for all seven countries that constitute the worldwide index are above 50 points, which corresponds to a positive growth forecast according to the GTB methodology.

At the same time, however, the GTB also forecasts a slowdown in growth rates in all index countries. This deceleration will be particularly strong in Asia, except for China: Index values for India, Japan and South Korea have dropped by eight, six and five points respectively compared to the prior year quarter. With an overall index of 75 points, India, however, continues to be the country with the strongest trade growth forecast.

“The DHL Global Trade Barometer clearly shows that the state of global trade remains solid. Both, air and ocean trade, continue to grow around the world. However, that the global economy could cool down, it is not entirely surprising, given the swoldering trade conflicts between the US and China, and economists’ expectations that trade momentum has weakened slightly”, said Tim Scharwath, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding.

Trade growth in the US (61 points) and China (58 points) remains solid. Both countries’ momentum of growth is slowing only moderately by two and one points, respectively – even though both countries would have much to lose if their trade conflict escalated.

With a two-point decline and an index value of 56 points, Germany’s loss of trade growth momentum turns out to be moderate, too, compared to the prior year quarter. While the UK was able to keep its index unchanged in the previous quarter, its growth forecast has now deteriorated noticeably by four points. This makes it the index country with the weakest growth forecast. With 53 points, the UK is only slightly above the 50-point mark, which indicates stagnation in trade growth for GTB.

The worldwide deceleration of trade growth is attributable to declines in both containerized ocean freight and international air trade – with last year being a peak year with exceptionally high volumes. South Korea is the only country whose growth forecast for ocean trade remains unchanged. In all the other countries, the outlook for ocean trade is declining.

With an eye to individual sector developments, Industrial Raw Materials contributed most to international trade growth, followed by Machine Parts and Basic Raw Materials. The weakest growing categories were Consumer & Household Goods, Capital Equipment and Machinery Parts.

Launched in January 2018, the DHL Global Trade Barometer is an innovative and unique early indicator for the current state and future development of global trade. It is based on large amounts of logistics data that are evaluated with the help of artificial intelligence. The indicator has been developed in cooperation between DHL, the world’s leading logistics company, and IT service provider Accenture. It is published four times a year. The next release date is scheduled for March 27, 2019.