Will Global Trade Bounce Back in 2024 amidst Geopolitical Turmoil?


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As global trade faces a rocky road in the year ahead, will it find its footing amidst all the geopolitical chaos? The UNCTAD report paints a grim picture for 2023, projecting a decline in trade. With factors like conflicts, sanctions, and economic fragility at play, the future seems uncertain. Yet, amidst all this, is there a glimmer of hope? Could 2024 surprise us all? More on this below.

The UNCTAD recently released a report projecting a 5% shrinkage in global trade for 2023 compared to the previous year. The outlook for 2024 isn’t any brighter, conveying a rather pessimistic stance.

Estimates from the UNCTAD suggest that worldwide trade is poised to reach around $30.7 trillion this year. They anticipate a decline of approximately $2 trillion (equivalent to 8%) in goods trade, while services trade is expected to see an increase of roughly $500 billion (around 7%).

The UNCTAD pointed to various factors contributing to this decline in global trade, including lackluster exports from developing nations and geopolitical tensions. Specifically, they highlighted the impact of the conflict in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia, and shifts in the US-China trade relationship, stating that these not only affect the involved economies directly but also have ripple effects on other economies’ trade dynamics.

Additionally, the UNCTAD noted that elevated interest rates in certain economies have acted as a hindrance to commercial activities.

Looking ahead to 2024, the UNCTAD maintains a highly uncertain and predominantly negative view. Despite some positive economic signals, they emphasized that ongoing geopolitical tensions, substantial debt levels, and widespread economic fragility are expected to exert adverse effects on global trade patterns.

Hot take: Maybe the world of trade just needs a giant “UNDO” button for all these economic misadventures!

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