February 17, 2020 / 12:21 PM / in 2 months

WTO gives somber goods trade outlook, sees virus threat

A traffic light is turned red in front of the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, December 10, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Growth of global trade in goods is likely to remain weak in early 2020, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Monday, adding that the below-trend performance could become even worse due to the new coronavirus.

The Geneva-based trade body said its goods trade indicator fell to 95.5 from the 96.6 reading reported in November. Readings of less than 100 indicate trade growth below medium-term trends.

The WTO said the new figure did not take into account the most recent developments, such as the outbreak of the new coronavirus, which could dampen trade prospects further.

Global merchandise trade fell by 0.2% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2019, the WTO said, with a possible pick-up in the fourth quarter.

However, its new data indicated this recovery would not be sustained, with a decline now looking likely in the Jan-March period of 2020.

The WTO trade outlook indicator is a composite of data on export orders in business surveys, air freight, container shipping, car production and sales and trade in electronic components and agricultural materials, particularly wood.

It is designed to identify turning points and gauge momentum in global trade growth rather than to provide a specific short-term forecast.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alex Richardson

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