Trendwatch: Global trade to recover steadily after rare fall in 2023, WTO says; US-China tensions fragmenting trade and investment, IMF finds


Global trade to recover steadily after rare fall in 2023, WTO says

Global goods trade should rebound this year, but more slowly than previously expected, after only its third decline in 30 years in 2023, the World Trade Organization said on Wednesday.

The Geneva-based trade body said easing inflationary pressures should help the volume of merchandise trade increase by 2.6% in 2024 and by 3.3% in 2025, after a 1.2% decline last year. The WTO had previously forecast a 3.3% rise in 2024.


US-China tensions fragmenting trade and investment, IMF finds

The global economy is showing signs of dividing between US- and China-centered blocs, though the dynamics differ from the Cold War with less overall fragmentation and a greater role for non-aligned economies, an International Monetary Fund study found.

Trade flows between a US-aligned group and another linked more closely to China have declined by about 12% more than trade between countries within the same bloc since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, according to a new working paper by IMF economists including First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath.

Foreign direct investment projects fell by around 20% more between blocs than within blocs over the same period, it added. “The magnitude of the decline is both economically and statistically significant,” the paper said.


EU ramps up pressure on China’s green tech with wind probe

The European Union ramped up pressure on Chinese clean-tech investments potentially squeezing out its local suppliers amid EU efforts to transform the bloc into a green economy. 

The EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager is set to announce an early-stage probe of Chinese involvement in wind parks in Spain, Greece, France, Romania and Bulgaria, according to prepared remarks for a speech in the US on Tuesday.

While the EU’s step is a preliminary one, it has powers to issue fines, order the suspension of tenders, or even block state takeovers of firms if it eventually unearths evidence of unfair subsidies given by the Chinese state.


$8M grant will double auto capacity at Port of Baltimore’s only unaffected terminal

BALTIMORE — During a visit Friday to the scene of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, President Joe Biden announced $8 million in federal funding to double the automotive shipping capacity at the Port of Baltimore’s only unaffected terminal.

The bridge collapse killed six people and has stranded 11 ships at the Maryland port, costing one roll-on/roll-off carrier as much as $10 million. It has cut off cargo vessel access to all but Tradepoint Atlantic, on the former Bethlehem Steel site at Sparrows Point, outside the blocked channel.

The funding for the expedited paving of 10 acres of new parking lots “will allow Sparrows Point to take on more ships,” the president said.