Global Trade Alert

GTA 19 - Global Trade Plateaus

This report demonstrates that talk of a global trade slowdown is misplaced. Since January 2015 world trade volumes have plateaued, which is unusual as pauses in trade growth are typically associated with global recessions. A global trade plateau is a major source of concern as it is likely to add to the temptation of governments to engage in zero-sum commercial policies that seek to steal market share from foreign rivals.

Using a specially constructed database that tracks most of the world's global trade flows on a monthly basis to the end of 2015, this report also shows that the number of product categories where trade is contracting at the global level has grown since our last report was published in November 2015. The pain is spreading.

Evidence is also presented in this report that the mix of protectionism used by governments has shifted since global trade plateaued. Furthermore, this report includes separate chapters on the high-profile trade tensions in the steel sector and much quieter spread of localisation requirements.


Evenett, S and J Fritz (eds) (2016), ‘GTA 19 - Global Trade Plateaus‘, CEPR Press, Paris & London.