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  April 12th, 2024 | Written by

WTO Forecasts Africa’s Export Surge Amid Global Trade Recovery in 2024

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According to the latest trade outlook from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Africa is poised to experience the fastest export growth rate globally in 2024, with a projected increase of 5.3%. This surge in exports is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels, reflecting a positive trajectory for the continent’s trade dynamics.

Despite the promising export outlook, Africa has faced challenges in import levels, which have lagged due to higher energy and commodity prices. Between 2019 and 2023, imports on the continent experienced a decline of 5%, marking the sharpest decrease worldwide. This disparity between export growth and import decline has implications for consumption and income across Africa.

The report highlights the expansion of digital goods exports in Africa, albeit from a relatively small base, accounting for only 0.9% of total exports in this category. Globally, digital services trade witnessed a robust growth of 9% in 2023, reaching $4.25 trillion, representing a significant portion of global goods and services exports.

However, the trade outlook also underscores several risks to global trade growth. Geopolitical uncertainties, including policy shifts and conflicts in regions such as Europe and the Middle East, pose challenges to global supply chains. Additionally, climate change impacts, particularly in critical waterways like the Panama Canal, could disrupt trade flows.

Specifically, the report identifies trade disruptions in the Suez Canal as a potential risk in 2024, given its significance in global trade routes. The recent blockage in the canal led to increased freight costs and highlighted vulnerabilities in global logistics networks. Moreover, the forecast points to a potential spike in food and energy prices, alongside elevated interest rates in advanced economies, as factors that could hinder global trade recovery.

Despite these challenges, the WTO remains cautiously optimistic about global trade growth, projecting a 2.6% increase in 2023 and a further uptick to 3.3% in 2024, following a contraction of -1.2% in the previous year. However, addressing the identified risks will be crucial for sustaining and accelerating the resurgence of global trade.