World trade fell 12% last year, its worst decline since 1945. First estimates also suggest global GDP fell 2.2%, according to Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organisation. This confirms the World Bank's fears back last March, that the global economy might shrink for the first time since World War 2.
Lamy went on to add the following downbeat assessment of the current position:
• The "freefall in trade" has been due to the "simultaneous reduction in aggregate demand across all major world economies (and) the drying up of trade finance".
• "The positive impact of national stimulus packages is fleeting and worries are mounting over the huge budget deficits rung up by many governments."
• "The International Labour Organization estimate the number of jobless worldwide at over 200m."
Lamy also highlighted the importance of trade to national employment:
• "22% of total employment in Germany depends on exports".
• "20% of US employment relates to exports of manufactured goods".
The chemical industry is a major beneficiary from growth in global trade. So it is unlikely that we will see a full recovery in demand whilst international trade itself, and global employment, remain depressed.