After contracting for several months, global trade is expanding once again (figure 6), with the total volume of exports and imports rising at a 5.0 percent annualized pace in the first quarter of 2013. The upturn in trade was driven by developing country imports, which rose at an 18.0 percent annualized pace in 2013Q1. This helped stir a 2.9 percent annualized increase in high-income country exports in 2012Q4 (figure 6).
Developing-country imports have led a rebound in trade
Source: World Bank, Datastream, Haver
The pick-up in import demand among developing countries was broadly-based, with import volumes rising in East Asia & Pacific, Latin America & the Caribbean, and South Asia. Data for the Middle East lag and, as of February 2013, do not show signs of acceleration. The pick-up in global demand, including in high-income countries, is also supporting faster export growth in developing countries (box 3). Developing countries exports were expanding at a 15.5 percent annualized pace during the first quarter of 2013.
Most recently, there are signs of an easing in the pace of global trade. Developing-country import demand slowed to an annualized pace of 10.8 percent in April, and both export (-5.4 percent) and import demand (-3.6 percent) from high-income countries turned negative in April. Also, China's economic growth appears to be losing momentum as export growth slowed from 12.7 percent (y/y) in April to one percent (y/y) in May - its slowest expansion in 15 months. With China being an important trading partner in many developing countries, weaker growth there will weigh down on the imports of other developing countries.