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Merchandise goods trade

  • Faced with a continued shift towards spending in services, high living costs, a restrictive policy environment and geopolitical uncertainty, merchandise trade is forecasted to decline in 2023. Globally, real exports and imports are expected to contract by 1.0% and 1.7%, respectively, while in Asia and the Pacific (excluding the Russian Federation) the slowdown will be more acute, with estimated declines of 3.5% and 2.2%, respectively. Nominally, merchandise trade in Asia and the Pacific in 2023 is projected to total US$ 17.6 trillion, shy of last year’s US$ 18.8 trillion.
  • In 2024, regional merchandise trade is expected to pick-up moderately. Supported by developing Asia-Pacific, regional real exports and imports (excluding the Russian Federation) are forecasted to expand by 3.2% and 3.4%, respectively. Nominally, these figures are expected to be 6.2% and 5.8%, respectively, marking a return to a mild price increase.
  • Price fluctuations in Asia and the Pacific are largely mirroring the inverse of last year’s inflationary trends. With the correction of key commodities prices, such as oil, gas, metals and agricultural fertilizers, most economies that a saw steep, commodity-fueled, export or import price increase in 2022 are looking at the opposite dynamic in 2023.
  • Owing to the region’s slower trade growth, the Asia-Pacific region’s share of global nominal exports and imports in 2023 is expected to recede slightly to 38.7% and 36.3%, respectively. Moreover, the region’s historic trade surplus is expected to almost halve to US$0.37 trillion in 2023.
  • In line with Asia and the Pacific aggregate regional figures, subregional real trade performances in 2023 are expected to be mostly negative. Indeed, South and South-West Asia is the only subregion predicted to post export growth in 2023. A weak demand for key exports and a commodity trade slowdown is translating into generalized export contractions across all other sub-regions. Import-wise, North and Central Asia will be the only subregion posting positive results, recovering from the previous year’s significant drop.

Commercial services trade

  • Contrary to merchandise trade, nominal commercial services trade is expected to expand robustly throughout 2023, supported by the recovery of the Travel sector and robust trade performances in Other commercial services, Other business services, and ICT services. In line with this scenario, in 2023, global commercial services exports and imports are expected to expand by 7.7% and 8.2%, respectively, while in Asia and the Pacific, growth will be stronger at 8.8% and 9.7%, respectively.
  • In 2024, service’s growth momentum is expected to slow, with regional exports and imports growth forecasted to grow at 7.1% and 4.9%, respectively. This growth is foreseen to continue to be supported by the recovering Travel sector, as well as by merchandise trade associated services, such as Other business services and Other commercial services. The normalization of the Transport’s sector performance and the ICT sector’s resilient growth will also help the region’s growth. Nevertheless, significant downside risks remain on the horizon. Namely, the looming possibility of a global recession, the risk of a poor economic performance in China, and increased geopolitical tensions are likely to continue pressuring demand for services downwards.
  • Among subregions, North and Central Asia is the only subregion expected to post negative services exports results, owing to the worsening contraction of exports felt in the Russian Federation. The Pacific is expected to post the highest services export expansion, with expansions also expected for all South-East Asian and South and South-West Asian economies. East and North-East Asia services exports are expected to grow only marginally. Import-wise, subregional trends have deviated considerably from the patterns discussed above. Indeed, East and North-East Asia is projected to post the strongest services imports performance of all, followed by North and Central Asia. South-East Asia and South and South-West Asia will once again perform positively and in tandem, but the Pacific subregion will be recording only marginal imports growth.
Trade, Investment and Innovation Division +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]