World trade as measured by exports fell by 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2016, with Asia recording the largest drop (2.7 per cent). All countries in Asia, with the exception of Thailand (+3 per cent), recorded a decline in their exports. Conversely, exports from South and Central America rose by 3.7 per cent and exports from Africa, Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States rose by 4.2 per cent collectively.
Meanwhile, world imports declined by 1.5 per cent in the first quarter, with Asia seeing a decrease of 3.9 per cent and South and Central America declining by 2.8 per cent. Europe saw a slight growth in imports (+0.6 per cent) fuelled by stronger demand in the European Union (with imports from outside the EU growing by 2.6 per cent).
This first quarter result was slightly weaker than anticipated. However, it is too soon to say how this will affect levels of trade growth over the course of the year. The WTO's most recent outlook for global trade growth was published in April 2016, and is available here.
The quarterly merchandise trade statistics are published simultaneously by both the WTO and UNCTAD on the WTO Statistics portal and UNCTADStat.