WTO: Global trade growth estimates lowered for 2014-15

The World Trade Organization (WTO) lowered its global trade growth forecast for 2014 and 2015 after a slow-than-expected import demand during the first half of the year. 

WTO economists reduced their estimate for this year to 3.1 percent, down from the 4.7 percent made in April and cut their estimate for 2015 to 4 percent from 5.3.

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The downgrade comes in response to weaker economic growth and muted import demand in the first six months of the year, particularly in natural resource exporting regions such as South and Central America, the report said. 

“International institutions have significantly revised their GDP forecasts after disappointing economic growth in the first half of the year,” said Director-General Roberto Azevêdo.

Downward pressure on trade growth is expected to persist through the final six months of the year amid continued geopolitical tensions and the continued uneven global expansion.

“This is a moment to remind ourselves that trade can play a positive role here," he said.

"Cutting trade costs and broadening trade opportunities can be a key ingredient to reversing this trend."

Growth is expected to improve in the final six months of the year as the effects of harsh winter weather in the United States and a sales tax increase in Japan fade, the report said.

However, several factors on the horizon have the potential to produce negative economic outcomes.

The situation between Russia and Ukraine and the escalation of action in the Middle East and the ebola outbreak in West Africa could all weigh on global growth.