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Pandemic causes ‘unprecedented’ fall in global trade

World trade experienced an “unprecedented” decline in April as most big economies suffered from strict coronavirus lockdowns, according to widely watched data which found that the eurozone was the hardest-hit area.

The volume of global trade in goods dropped by 12.1 per cent in April compared with the previous month, according to the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis — the largest monthly contraction since records began in 2000.

The drop exacerbated the 2.4 per cent decline in world trade in March, the bureau’s CPB world trade monitor said, leaving global goods trade volumes 16.2 per cent smaller than the same time last year.

All regions reported a fall in trade volumes, but the eurozone was the hardest hit with trade volumes falling by 20.1 per cent month on month in April. Its goods trade has contracted by 28.5 per cent over the past year.

Trade volumes in the US dropped by 16.8 per cent month on month in April, while trade in emerging Asia, which includes China and India, fell by 6 per cent. Chinese export volumes shrank in April, after a mild expansion in March as the pandemic eased in the country.

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