Is the long winter in global trade coming to an end?
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The latest data from the CPB World Trade Monitor shows world export volumes rose by 3% in December 2016 from a year ago and 0.7% from the previous month. For emerging Asia, export growth volumes increased 2.8% year-on-year and marginally compared to the previous month. Very likely the slight bounce in world trade is the result of an improvement in economic growth in the US, the Eurozone and in China, as reflected in the PMI survey numbers.
There are two factors to be kept in mind. First, the chart shows that export volumes from emerging Asia were higher in January and February 2015 than they are now. The data is seasonally adjusted and indicates that emerging market export volumes have still a long way to go before they get back to normal growth.
And second, almost everybody is agreed that with Donald Trump as president of the US, the risk of rising protectionism is now much higher. If the fears come true, the current small bounce in world trade is likely to peter out.