Global growth

It was a mixed year for trade for the G20, with goods trade slumping as services trade picked up, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In a new report, the OECD said the value of merchandise trade for the G20 was essentially flat in the fourth quarter, following several quarters of declines.

“There was little change in exports and imports compared to [the third quarter], as a robust recovery in East Asia was counterbalanced by a slowdown in Europe and North America,” it said.

Specifically, export growth stagnated in the U.S., it said, “with lower sales of automobiles being offset by higher sales of industrial supplies.”

Exports were down by 0.6% in Europe, and imports declined 1.8%.

Merchandise trade growth was strong in East Asia, the OECD said.

“China recorded a 0.6% increase in exports, in part driven by high tech products such as mobile phones, and a 3.9% increase in imports due to mechanical and electrical products,” it reported.

Exports also increased in both Japan and Korea, “due to strong automobile sales and a recovery of the Korean semiconductor business.”

For the year, merchandise trade in the G20 contracted, with exports and imports down by 3.3% and 5.5%, respectively, the OECD reported.

Alongside the merchandise trade trends, preliminary estimates of services trade indicate that the G20 enjoyed moderate growth in the fourth quarter, as exports rose by an estimated 1.6%, and imports grew by 1.3% in the fourth quarter.

In the U.S., services exports grew broadly, while travel and transport services drove the increase in imports.

Similarly, services exports jumped in both China and Korea, “reflecting a widespread recovery across most service categories,” the OECD said.

“Soaring receipts for intellectual property services boosted export growth in Japan,” it noted.

For the year overall, G20 services trade rose, as exports grew by 7.3%, and imports increased by 10.5%.