Data Suggests Recovery in International Trade

Major exporting economies have released data that offer a glimmer of hope that international trade is on its way to recovery, says The Wall Street Journal.


According to the newspaper, September trade data reported by South Korea, Taiwan and Brazil showed growth from a month before, though still well below 2008’s levels.


Citing figures reported by the three countries, the Journal says that Taiwan’s exports fell 12.7% in September from the year earlier, but a much smaller drop than in August, when exports fell 24.6%. Last week, South Korea reported similar improvement. The Journal says South Korea’s exports fell 6.6% from the year earlier, its slowest decline in 11 months, and rose 11.1% from the month before on a seasonally adjusted basis. Brazil's exports were just a tad higher in September over August, but still 31% below 2008 levels.


"It looks like there is a recovery in trade that is happening, but it's too early to tell if it's the stimulus or a real recovery," Mark Matthews, Asia Pacific strategist with Fox-Pitt Kelton in Hong Kong, told the Journal.


However, not all countries have positive data to show. According to the Journal, on Thursday Malaysia reported that its exports declined 19.8% in August from a year earlier.


Speaking to the Journal, Andy Lau, head of Calan Worldwide Ltd., a small Hong Kong-based exporter of toys and sundries to Europe and the U.S., says orders are trickling in but are still well below the levels of a couple of years ago. He is hoping that buyers will finally show up at trade shows this month.


Meanwhile, a more realistic picture of the trade environment will arrive in the following days, says the Journal. The U.S. reports its international trade numbers for August on Friday. China reports its September trade figures on Monday. The International Monetary Fund estimates the volume of world trade will shrink 11.9% this year, before growing around 2.5% next year.


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