Exports from both the advanced and the leading emerging economies slowed sharply in the first three months of this year, according to new figures that raise concerns about the health of the global recovery.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said yesterday that exports by the G7 and Brics economies had fallen by a collective 2.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2014 from the previous three months. Imports from the same countries fell by 0.1 per cent in the same period.
The data confirm fears that global trade had a slow start to 2014 despite predictions from the World Trade Organisation and others of a return to buoyant growth after several dire years.
“The indication that we have of the moment of any great bounce back [in global trade] is that it is not coming through,” said Nadim Ahmad, head of trade and competitiveness statistics at the OECD.
The OECD numbers released yesterday showed that among G7 and Brics economies only Germany and Italy registered increases in exports.
But Mr Ahmad said it was hard to extract a -common reason for the slowdown, with the picture still murky due to one-off factors and shocks in economies such as China, the US and Japan.
In China, where exports fell 7.3 per cent in the first quarter from the previous three months, remnants of last year’s crackdown on the over-invoicing used by companies to get around capital controls were still being seen, the OECD said. The figures were also distorted by the lunar new year holiday.
But China was not an exception among leading developing countries, as all of the Brics economies saw their exports shrink in the first three months of this year.