International merchandise trade registered a strong performance in 2004, growing at an estimated 10.5 per cent in volume terms, a noticeable acceleration over the 6.2 per cent growth in 2003. This outcome reflected the cyclical strength of the global economic recovery as manufacturing, including the trade-intensive information and communication technologies (ICT) sector, picked up pace in the first half of the year and domestic demand strengthened in a broader number of economies. The brisk global economic environment supported further gains in the prices of commodities and, to a lesser extent, of manufactures, leading to an increase in the dollar value of global trade of almost 19 per cent, to $8.6 trillion, in 2004. However, with the global recovery reaching its peak towards the end of 2004, the rate of growth of global trade is anticipated to moderate to about 8 per cent, in real terms, in 2005 (see table A.7).

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