G20 international merchandise trade continues to fall in the second quarter of 2019

29-Aug-2019

G20 international merchandise trade, seasonally adjusted and expressed in current US dollars, continued its downward trend in the second quarter of 2019, with exports contracting by 1.9% and imports by 0.9%.

Exports contracted by 5.3% in China (to their lowest level since Q4 2017) and by 1.1% in the United States (their lowest level since Q1 2018). Imports rose marginally in both countries, (by 0.6% in China and 0.3% in the United States), on the back of a pick-up in US-China bilateral trade, possibly reflecting stockpiling in anticipation of US tariff measures that became effective on 10 May and Chinese retaliatory measures (implemented on 1 June). United States exports to, and imports from, China increased by 2.7% and 0.2% respectively in the second quarter of 2019 (but remain significantly below the highs seen in Q3 2018, by 17.4% for exports and 10.7% for imports).

In the European Union, exports and imports contracted by 1.7% and 2.3% respectively. France’s exports fell by 0.3% and imports by 0.7% while Germany’s exports fell by 3.0% and imports by 1.7%. Italy’s imports fell by 0.6% (the fifth consecutive quarterly fall), though its exports saw a modest increase of 0.1%. Amid continuing Brexit uncertainty, the United Kingdom saw significant contractions in both exports (minus 7.1%) and imports (minus 12.6%).

Russia’s exports fell by 7.4%, despite higher crude oil prices. Saudi Arabia’s exports also fell significantly by 3.5% with imports contracting by 11.5%. In Korea, exports fell by 1.6%, the third straight quarterly decrease, and are now 12.3% below the recent high recorded in Q3 2018.

In Argentina, imports contracted by 6.4%, to levels one-third below recent highs, as the Argentine peso depreciated by 12.5% against the US dollar (86.7% over the last 4 quarters). Turkey’s imports also fell significantly (by 6.4%), as the Turkish lira continued to depreciate (by 9.5% against the US dollar in the second quarter of 2019).

Only a few G20 economies saw merchandise trade exports increase in the second quarter of 2019: Australia (by 6.3%), Canada (6.4%), Mexico (2.4%) and Japan (0.2%).