WTO Says World Trade To Grow 9.5 Percent

World Trade Organization expects 9.5 percent growth in merchandise trade this year, a strong recovery from steepest commercial contraction since Great Depression.

GENEVA (AP) -- The World Trade Organization said Friday that it expected 9.5 percent growth in merchandise trade this year, a strong recovery from the steepest commercial contraction since the Great Depression.

The rebound will be led by an 11 percent growth in exports from developing countries such as China, India and Brazil, the WTO said. Exports from wealthy nations should rise 7.5 percent.

World trade shrunk by 12.2 percent in 2009, as the economic crisis destroyed consumer confidence, weakened demand, damaged credit lines for exporters and, in some instances, led to increased protectionism from governments.

The WTO said it was the "sharpest decline in more than 70 years," and the world's richest countries suffered the worst: exports plunged 13.9 percent in the United States, 14.8 percent in Europe and 24.9 percent in Japan.

"We see the light at the end of the tunnel," WTO chief Pascal Lamy said, "and trade promises to be an important part of the recovery."

At the current recovery rate, global commerce will return to pre-crisis levels in 2011.

The WTO used trade volumes and not trade values for its assessment to avoid distortions caused by sharp changes in commodity prices or exchange rates.

In value terms, world trade crashed 23 percent to $12.15 trillion in 2009, the Geneva-based WTO said. Commercial services exports sunk 13 percent to $3.31 trillion for their first slowdown in 26 years.

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