Global Trade Surges to $32 Trillion Record in 2022, U.N. Says

A view of the Persian Gulf
A view of the Persian Gulf from inside Devon, a tanker transferring oil to exporting markets. (Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg News)

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The value of global trade is set to reach a new record this year, increasing by about 12% to an estimated $32 trillion, according to a U.N. report that signaled a slowdown heading into 2023.

“The substantial trade growth during the last year was largely due to increases in the value of the trade of energy products,” the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in the report released Dec. 13.

Trade in merchandise goods soared to $25 trillion, an increase of about 10% versus the prior year. Trade in services grew 15% year-over-year to nearly $7 trillion, according to the report.

The U.N. body expects the inflation-adjusted value of global trade will diminish next year because of the combined impact of geopolitical frictions, lower economic growth, higher prices for goods and record levels of global debt. Based on volumes, “trade continued to increase throughout 2022, a signal of resilient global demand,” the report stated.

Still, weaker economic growth and inflation are likely to hamper international commerce in the year ahead. “While the outlook for global trade remains uncertain, negative factors appear to outweigh positive trends,” the report said.

With assistance from Christopher Anstey.

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