G20 international trade suffers amid coronavirus pandemic

Imports by the 20-biggest industrialised nations also plunged during the second quarter

A worker wearing a face mask to protect against the new coronavirus guides the loading of a shipping container at a container port in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong Province, Thursday, July 9, 2020. China’s imports of U.S. goods rose 10.6% in June over a year earlier and its global trade also increased in a fresh sign the world’s second-largest economy is gradually recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, customs data showed Tuesday July 14, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)
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The international merchandise trade of the world’s 20 largest industrialised nations suffered in the second quarter of 2020 due to containment measures introduced by governments to tackle the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Exports from the G20 group fell 17.7 per cent for the quarter ending June 30 to $2.83 trillion (Dh10.39tn), compared to the first three months of this year. Imports also slumped 16.7 per cent to $2.88tn. On an annual basis, exports as well as imports dropped 22 per cent, data showed.

“Monthly data for the second quarter reveal that the collapse in trade occurred in April 2020 when most countries had stringent Covid‑19 containment measures in place,” the OECD said on Thursday. “Compared to March 2020, G20 exports and imports fell by 18.7 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. However, data for May and June point to partial recovery from the April lows in nearly all G20 economies, as containment measures eased.”

The coronavirus pandemic brought the global, trade, travel and tourism industries to a halt and has tipped the global economy into a recession, expected to be the deepest since the Great Depression, according to the International Monetary Fund. In June, the multilateral lender forecast global gross domestic product would shrink by 4.9 per cent this year.

China was the only G20 economy to record export growth in the second quarter of 2020, according to the report. Exports from the world’s second-largest economy rose 9.1 per cent in the second quarter to $616.5 billion, following a 9.3 per cent decline in the first quarter. Chinese imports, however, fell 4.9 per cent during the period to $468.8bn.

Australia registered only single-digit falls in both exports (down 4.4 per cent) and imports (down 5.6 per cent). In Japan, exports fell 15.2 per cent and imports 4.6 per cent, while in Korea exports dropped 20.1 per cent and imports 10.8 per cent respectively, according to the OECD report.

India and Indonesia experienced particularly sharp falls in exports as well as in imports. India’s exports fell 30.1 per cent in the second quarter while Indonesia’s exports dropped 15.9 per cent from the first three months of the year. Imports for the two countries were down 47.4 per cent and 18.5 per cent respectively, the report added.

A similar trend was seen in North America. Exports and imports of the US plunged 28 per cent and 14.5 per cent respectively. The US is one of the worst affected countries due to the pandemic.

In Europe, exports of 27 EU member countries fell 21.3 per cent and imports 19 per cent during the April-June quarter. France, Germany, Italy and the UK, saw exports fall by 29.3 per cent, 22.5 per cent, 26.5 per cent and 23.6 per cent respectively, while imports fell by 20.4 per cent, 15.6 percent, 23.3 percent and 25.2 per cent.

The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise globally. As of Thursday, there were more than 24 million global coronavirus cases, with about 17 million recoveries, and the death toll stood at more than 830,000, according to Worldometer.