If you thought the trade war was bad for global commerce...

CONTAINER-SHIP navigators, box-ticking customs officials, logistics wizards, truck drivers and warehouse nightwatchmen: all are familiar with dealing with glitches involving international trade, from strikes to trade wars. But with forecasters predicting a slump in global GDP this year, even their most creative thinking cannot keep $25trn of goods and services flowing around the world.

Trade is the conduit through which economic pain passes from one country to another. Even simple products rely on elaborate supply chains: a humble cup of coffee requires 29 firms to collaborate across 18 countries, according to one estimate. Shocks convulse in either direction. A port closure or customs delay can cripple production elsewhere. If consumers stop buying cars and phones, manufacturers and workers in distant lands feel the pinch.

When world output, at purchasing-power parity, fell by 0.1% in 2009, trade volumes collapsed by a whopping 13%. Quarterly volumes fell by even more (see chart). Weaker demand in America and the European Union rippled along trade routes to Canada, China, emerging Asia, Japan and Mexico. One study finds that 27% of the decline in American demand and 18% of that in the European Union was borne by foreign producers.


via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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