World Trade Organisation sees ‘ugly’ trade plunge worse than in financial crisis amid coronavirus

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Wednesday forecast that goods trade would fall more steeply this year than in the 2008 global financial crisis as the coronavirus pandemic recedes.

However, the organisation expected a rebound in 2021 – if countries worked together.

Comparisons with the financial crisis and even the Great Depression of the 1930s were inevitable, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said.

Yet, unlike then, banks were not short of capital and the economic engine was in decent shape, he told a news conference.

“The pandemic cut the fuel line to the engine. If the fuel line is reconnected properly, a rapid and vigorous rebound is possible,” Azevedo added.

Countries working together would witness a faster recovery than if each country acted solely, while monetary, fiscal and trade policy all ought to go in the same direction. A turn to protectionism would create new shocks, the WTO official said.