The World Trade Organization has slashed its forecast for trade growth in 2013, saying it feared protectionism was on the increase.
It cut its forecast for global growth in 2013 to 3.3% from 4.5% and said trade grew only 2% in 2012. That was the smallest annual rise since records began in 1981 and the second weakest on record after 2009, when trade shrank.
WTO Director General Pascal Lamy warned that 2013 could turn out even weaker than expected, especially due to risks from the euro crisis, and countries might try to restrict trade further in a bid to shore up domestic growth.
Despite the hope of quickening trade this year and a provisional forecast of 5% growth in 2014, the annual rises are expected to stay below the historical trend of long-term growth, which was 6% for the 20 years leading up to the financial crisis, but now stands at 5.3%.