Weak growth of G20 international merchandise trade in third quarter of 2018

Trade 2018

(OECD, 2018)

This article is brought to you in association with OECD.


G20 international merchandise trade, seasonally adjusted and expressed in current US dollars, grew marginally in the third quarter of 2018, on the back of rising oil prices, with G20 exports rising by 0.3% and imports by 0.7%, following the minor contractions in the second quarter of 2018.

Excluding large oil exporters, such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, G20 trade was flat suggesting that the steady expansion seen over the last two years may have stalled as recent protectionist measures begin to bite.

In the United States, exports contracted by 1.7%. Although exports grew in China (by 2.4%) – partly reflecting the exceptional sale of an oil platform to Brazil, which helped push up Brazilian imports by 18.0% – this only partially offset the significant contraction of Chinese exports (down 4.9%) in the previous quarter. Exports also contracted in the European Union as a whole (minus 0.8%), for the second straight quarter, and in Australia (minus 2.0%), Japan (minus 2.0%), South Africa (minus 0.8%), Turkey (minus 0.6%) and India (minus 0.3%).

Import growth remained weak in most countries, but picked up in large oil-importing countries such as China (4.1%) and India (4.1%), as well as Indonesia (4.9%). Imports decreased significantly in Turkey (minus 14.1%) and Argentina (minus 8.0%), in large part reflecting the continuing depreciation of these countries’ currencies against the US dollar (minus 36% for the Argentine peso and minus 30% for the Turkish lira), as well as in Saudi Arabia (minus 10.6%). Imports also contracted in Australia (minus 5.2%), Russia (minus 5.2%), Canada (minus 1.4%), Korea (minus 0.9%) and the European Union as a whole (minus 0.5%).

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