World trade seen growing at sluggish pace in 2016

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

GENEVA (AP) — The World Trade Organization is predicting global trade will increase by a "disappointing" 2.8 percent this year, the same rate as last year and the fifth straight below 3 percent.

The Geneva-based trade body forecast that trade growth should pick up to 3.6 percent in 2017 — though risks like China's economic slowdown, financial market instability and the impact of exchange-rate swings on high-debt countries could weigh.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a statement Thursday that trade was nonetheless positive — if at a "disappointing rate" — and noted that a slump in commodity prices and exchange rate shifts had reduced the overall value of trade. It fell 13 percent to $16.5 trillion in 2015.

Azevedo warned about "the threat of creeping protectionism" by increasing trade restrictions by governments.