Saturday, 24th February, 2024
Saturday, 24th February, 2024

LDCs including Bangladesh face big trade slump due to Covid-19: WTO

The slump in global trade, triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, hit the least developed countries (LDCs), including Bangladesh, as combined merchandise exports of these countries dropped by 16 per cent during the first half of 2020.

A report, prepared by the secretariat of the World Trade Organization (WTO), unveiled the scenario. It was placed in a meeting of the WTO’s Sub-Committee on LDCs which was held in Geneva on last Wednesday.

According to the report, the decline in the value of LDC merchandise exports was steeper than the 13 per cent average decline in global exports registered in the first six months of 2020.

The LDC services sector also took a hit as it declined by around 40 per cent during the period under review.

“The LDCs also had a subdued trade performance in 2019, with their share in world exports (goods and services combined) remaining static at around 0.96 per cent,” the report added.

The WTO report said that data from 97 economies, which include most of the LDCs’ key trading partners, showed that the value of LDC merchandise exports declined by 21.0 per cent during March-June period of the current year.

“Exports declined for more than two-thirds of LDCs with certain LDCs experiencing a particularly severe export slump compared to the LDC group’s average,” it further added.

“The two largest LDC exporters Angola and Bangladesh experienced sharp contractions in their top export destinations,” it continued adding that Angola recorded a 46.0 per cent decline in exports to China while Bangladesh’s exports to the European Union (EU) dropped by 30.0 per cent.

Though LDCs’ merchandise exports to all 97 economies declined by 23.0 per cent, the fall was larger for their exports to India (-46.0 per cent), the United Kingdom (-32 per cent), China (-28 per cent), the European Union (-28 per cent), Russia (-23 per cent) and the United States (-23 per cent).

“The large decrease in LDCs’ exports to India was driven by sharp drops in India’s imports from Angola (-52 per cent), Burkina Faso (-83 per cent), Bangladesh (-61 per cent) and Zambia (-49 per cent), which had been the top LDC exporters to India during March-June 2019,” the report mentioned.

Clothing products dominate the LDCs’ manufacturing exports and have been hit hard due to the pandemic, observed the WTO report.

It estimated that the value of LDCs’ exports of clothing dropped by 28 per cent during March-June period of 2020, and by 18.0 per cent in the first half of 2020.

Nepal has seen the biggest decline, around 58 per cent, during the period under review. It was followed by Lesotho and Haiti (each faced 49.0 per cent decline) and Madagascar (-33 per cent).

Bangladesh, the biggest LDC clothing exporter, saw its clothing exports drop by around a third (32 per cent) in March-June of the current year.

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