G20 international merchandise trade continues to fall in the second quarter

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), international merchandise trade in G20 countries continued its downward trend in the second quarter of 2019, with exports contracting by 1.9% and imports by 0.9%.

Exports contracted by 5.3% in China (to their lowest level since Q4 2017) and by 1.1% in the United States (their lowest level since Q1 2018). Imports rose marginally in both countries, (by 0.6% in China and 0.3% in the United States), on the back of a pick-up in U.S.-China bilateral trade, possibly reflecting stockpiling in anticipation of U.S. tariff measures that became effective on May 10 and Chinese retaliatory measures (implemented on 1 June).

United States exports to, and imports from, China increased by 2.7% and 0.2% respectively in the second quarter of 2019 (but remain significantly below the highs seen in Q3 2018, by 17.4% for exports and 10.7% for imports).

In the European Union, exports and imports contracted by 1.7% and 2.3% respectively. France’s exports fell by 0.3% and imports by 0.7% while Germany’s exports fell by 3.0% and imports by 1.7%. Italy’s imports fell by 0.6% (the fifth consecutive quarterly fall), though its exports saw a modest increase of 0.1%. Amid continuing Brexit uncertainty, the United Kingdom saw significant contractions in both exports (minus 7.1%) and imports (minus 12.6%).

Only a few G20 economies saw merchandise trade exports increase in the second quarter of 2019: Australia (by 6.3%), Canada (6.4%), Mexico (2.4%) and Japan (0.2%).

Source: OECD

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