Ukraine war's impact on trade not as bad as expected, says WTO

GENEVA – Global trade grew more than expected last year despite the upheaval caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, as badly-affected countries managed to switch suppliers or products, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said on Thursday.

The global trade watchdog had forecast just 3 per cent growth for 2022 as the conflict caused major disruptions to exports including wheat and fuels.

However, WTO chief economist Ralph Ossa, presenting its latest analysis of the war’s impact on trade, said global trade had “held up well”.

“We have not seen the worst predictions foreseen at the onset of the war,” he said, in a statement.

The WTO did not give the figure for last year, saying the data would be available in April.

Mr Ossa added that global trade was resilient because WTO members showed restraint in their use of export restrictions.

“Part of the explanation (for the limited impact) is that the world trading system remained open,” he said.

Some countries previously reliant on imports from Ukraine swopped one food product for another, the WTO report said, switching for example from wheat to rice.

Others found alternative suppliers, such as Egypt which replaced wheat from Ukraine with imports from the European Union and the United States, as well as Russia.