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WTO forecasts 4.7% rise in global trade, wide recovery

GENEVA -- Global commerce is set to grow by 4.7 percent this year, the World Trade Organization said on Monday, with recovery in rich economies expected to mitigate risks in developing nations.

The WTO previously had forecast that trade would expand by 4.5 percent in 2014, up from an estimated rate of 2.1 percent in 2013.

So the latest forecast points to substantially more than a doubling of the growth achieved last year.

Asia will continue to fuel growth rates, the WTO said, although China's exceptionally strong expansion is slowing.

In addition, Europe and North America's recovery is also set to be a key driver on both the import and export fronts.

“For the last two years trade growth has been sluggish. Looking ahead, if GDP (gross domestic product) forecasts hold true, we expect a broad-based but modest upturn in 2014, and further consolidation of this growth in 2015,” WTO chief Roberto Azevedo told reporters.

The WTO predicted that trade growth would pick up pace next year, reaching 5.3 percent.

“Prospects for world trade and output in 2014 and 2015 are better than they have been for some time, but leading economies remain fragile, including some of the most dynamic developing countries that until recently were propping up demand,” the WTO said in a statement.

“Downside risks to trade abound, but significant upside potential also exists, as the U.S. economy seems to be gaining momentum and the European Union appears to have turned a corner,” it said.

“At the same time, developing economies have slowed appreciably, for a variety of reasons both internal and external. Which of these forces is stronger may determine how world trade evolves over the next one to two years.”

WTO economists noted that a growth rate of 5.3 percent in 2015 would bring trade growth back to its 20-year average.

For the past two years, growth has averaged only 2.2 percent.

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