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After years of shocks, global economy is stabilising

The global economy is stabilizing but the outlook remains subdued—both advanced economies and EMDEs are projected to grow at a slower pace over 2024-26 than in the pre-pandemic decade. Recent upward pressures on global core inflation are anticipated to gradually ease, such that headline inflation converges to levels broadly consistent with central bank targets by […]

The global economy is stabilizing but the outlook remains subdued—both advanced economies and EMDEs are projected to grow at a slower pace over 2024-26 than in the pre-pandemic decade. Recent upward pressures on global core inflation are anticipated to gradually ease, such that headline inflation converges to levels broadly consistent with central bank targets by 2026. Market expectations for the path of U.S. policy rates have been repeatedly revised higher. Amid elevated borrowing costs, about two- fifths of EMDEs are acutely vulnerable to debt stress. In 2024-25, growth is expected to underperform its 2010-19 average in countries comprising more than 80 percent of global output and population. The multiple shocks of recent years have impeded per capita income catch-up, with almost half of EMDEs losing ground relative to advanced economies over 2020-24.

Global trade

Global trade in goods and services was nearly flat in 2023 — the weakest performance outside of global recessions in the past 50 years. Amid a sharp slowdown in global industrial production, the volume of goods trade contracted for most of 2023 and fell by 1.9 percent for the year as a whole.

The evolution of goods trade diverged across regions, with volumes declining in advanced economies, especially in Europe, and stagnating in EMDEs as expansions in China and Europe and Central Asia (ECA) offset contrac- tions in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and Middle East and North Africa (MNA).

The value of global services trade grew about 9 percent in 2023, driven primarily by a recovery in tourism flows—exports of travel services surged by about 38 percent (WTO 2024). However, the pace of expansion in tourism was substantially below that in 2022, with recent data indicating tourism activity in line with pre-pandemic levels, suggesting a near-full recovery in most regions.

Stabilization in services trade is reflected in the steadying of the global services PMI for new export orders, which has remained closer to neutral thresholds compared to last year.
The number of new trade-restricting measures is still well above pre-pandemic levels—although down from the historical high reached in 2023— exerting a further drag on global trade. Recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, coupled with climate-related shipping disruptions in the Panama Canal, have affected maritime transit and freight rates along these critical routes (Bogetic et al. 2024).

These disruptions, however, have not yet led to a substantial increase in global supply chain pressures or lengthened global supplier delivery times. Adverse effects have been imited to a few regions and specific industries so far. Global trade growth is projected to pick up to 2.5 percent this year, a significant improvement from last year but well below the average rates observed in the two decades preceding the pandemic (figure 1.3.C). The forecast entails a pickup in goods trade growth after a sluggish start to the year, supported by a rebound in global goods demand as inventory restocking resumes in the United States and the euro area, and as demand from China stabilizes. Meanwhile, services trade growth is expected to stabilize near its pre-pandemic pace.

In 2025, trade growth is expected to firm to 3.4 percent, in tandem with a pickup in growth in the euro area and EMDEs excluding China, and remain steady in 2026.

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