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APEC bullish on trade rebound in 2024

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Trade is expected to grow 0.6 percent to 12.6 percent across Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies this year after contracting in 2023.

In an APEC bulletin, APEC Policy Support Unit director Carlos Kuriyama, analyst Rhea Crisologo Hernando and researcher Glacer Niño Vasquez said projections paint a picture of robust recovery in 2024 as bright prospects seen for trade in the APEC region in the near term.

Kuriyama, Hernando and Vasquez said the regional average is estimated to reach 4 percent, higher than forecasts for global trade.  

“This favorable trend is expected to continue in 2025, underpinned by resilient supply chains and a more stable economic growth,” they said.

Merchandise trade contracted in 2023 as slower economic growth gave rise to economic uncertainty, in turn affecting spending decisions and translating into sluggish demand.

Additionally, the accumulation of restrictive and unpredictable trade policies such as anti-dumping measures and countervailing duties continued their upward trend, further exacerbating trade activity, the authors said.

“A glimmer of hope emerges through trade facilitation. Recent data indicate that the region is actively implementing 551 trade-facilitating measures, providing promising avenues to counter the adverse effects of trade constraints,” they said.

Kuriyama, Hernando and Vasquez said the value of APEC merchandise exports and imports in 2023 reversed by -6.0 percent and -6.7 percent respectively, after expanding in 2021-2022.

The volume of merchandise trade followed the same declining trend, with exports growing marginally by 0.3 percent while imports contracted by 1.4 percent during the same period, they said.

In the face of global uncertainties and volatile commodity markets, the authors underscored the importance of multilateral approaches in promoting free and fair trade and investment across the Asia-Pacific.

“Indeed, fostering collective action to keep trade open, ensure global stability, and address complex and multiple challenges will fortify APEC economies against prevailing headwinds that threaten to diminish the gains made post-pandemic,” they said.

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