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World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015

image of World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015

This publication is the definitive report of the United Nations on the state of the world economy. It is jointly produced by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the five United Nations Regional Commissions. Global economic growth is forecast to increase marginally over the next two years at 3.1% in 2015 and 3.3% in 2016, compared with an estimated growth of 2.6 per cent for 2014. An expected US interest rate increase, remaining euro area fragility, a further slowdown in developing economies and several geopolitical conflicts pose major concerns for the global economic outlook today.

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International trade

World trade flows, measured in terms of import volumes, continued to grow at a slow pace in 2014, expanding at about 3.3 per cent, slightly faster than in 2013 but still well below the long-term trend of the decades before the global financial crisis. In the two decades prior to the crisis, for instance, the annual growth of world trade, measured by imports in volume, was on average twice the growth of world gross product (WGP), although trade flows were characterized by much higher volatility than WGP (figure II.1). The eruption of the global financial crisis in 2008 and the subsequent Great Recession in 2009 led to a collapse in world trade flows, with the volume of world imports plummeting over 11 per cent in 2009, 5 times the percentage decline in WGP. Except for a strong rebound in 2010, world trade has been expanding at a sluggish pace during the recovery, at only about the same rate as WGP. In the forecast period, trade growth is expected to expand moderately, at a pace of 4.7 per cent in 2015 and 5.0 per cent in 2016. While this will be an improvement, the ratio of the growth of world trade to that of WGP will still be only 1.5, not a full recovery to the pre-crisis trend.

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