WTO lowers 2015l trade growth forecast to 2.8 percent

Geneva, Sep 30 (IANS) The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Wednesday lowered the global trade growth forecast for 2015 to 2.8 percent, from the 3.3 percent it projected in April, on the basis of a “clouded outlook” for the global economy.

“At the time of our last forecast in April 2015, world trade and output appeared to be strengthening based on available data through 2014 Q4. However, results for the first half of 2015 were below expectations as quarterly growth turned negative, averaging -0.7 percent in Q1 and Q2,” the WTO said in a statement.

“Volatility in financial markets, uncertainty over the changing stance of monetary policy in the United States and mixed recent economic data have clouded the outlook for the world economy and trade in the second half of the year and beyond,” it said.

WTO cited multiple factors like lower global crude oil and other commodity prices, exchange rate fluctuations and weak import demand in emerging markets for lowering its forecast.

“If current projections are realised, 2015 will mark the fourth consecutive year in which annual trade growth has fallen below 3 percent and the fourth year where trade has grown at roughly the same rate as world GDP, rather than twice as fast, as was the case in the 1990s and early 2000s,” the statement said.

The multilateral trade body also lowered its estimate for 2016 to 3.9 percent from 4 percent.

India’s merchandise exports declined further for the ninth straight month in August to $21.27 billion, 20.66 percent lower than the $26.80 billion worth shipped in the same month of last year, official data showed earlier this month.

Cumulative exports for the April-August 2015-16 at $111.09 billion registered a 16.17 percent declined over last year’s corresponding period at $132.53 billion, continuing the declining trend for month, caused by the global economic slowdown, fall in crude oil prices and appreciation of the rupee.

India’s commerce ministry held a stakeholders’ meeting here earlier this month to discuss issues related to special economic zones with a view to boost exports, in a context of several SEZ developers surrendering or delaying projects.

The inter-ministerial Board of Approval on SEZs recently cancelled 22 zones for lack of satisfactory progress in executing these, and gave more time to 27 developers to implement their projects.

Industry has been asking for a reduction or removal of minimum alternate tax (MAT) and dividend distribution tax (DDT) imposed on SEZ developers on these investments, against the backdrop of a continuous decline in the country’s exports.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) has recently said that the country is likely to miss exports target for the fourth year in succession, unless the government steps in with corrective measures.

Last year, India recorded exports of $310 billion against a target of $340 billion. The current year export target is set at $310 billion.

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