WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy says the hangover from the financial crisis is still with us. High unemployment in developed economies and sharp belt-tightening in Europe will keep fuelling protectionist pressures. Lamy challenges WTO Members to continue to be vigilant and resist these pressures and to work toward opening markets rather than closing them. He says stability should be the name of the game for 2011.
The 14.5% rise in export volume during 2010 was the largest annual figure in the present data series which began in 1950 and was buoyed by a 3.6% recovery in global output. For 2011, economists are forecasting a more modest 6.5% increase, but with uncertainty about the impact of a number of recent events, including the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Additional uncertainties include rising prices for food and other primary products, and unrest in major oil exporting countries. Adverse developments in any of these areas could potentially set back the economic recovery and limit the expansion of trade in the coming year. The full impact of the Japanese disaster is particularly difficult to gauge since it is complicated by a simultaneous nuclear incident, which is hampering relief and rebuilding efforts.