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Report: China’s share of global trade growth to plunge in next 5 years

China’s share of global trade growth will decline by half over the next five years as businesses diversify their international production and distribution networks and the country focuses more attention on building its domestic supply base, according to a report released Thursday.

The report, developed by New York University’s Stern School of Business and German transport and logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL Group, forecasts that China’s share of global trade growth–imports and exports–will drop to 13% from 2022 to 2026. That is down from 26% between 2016 and 2021, according to the report. All figures are calculated on an annualized basis.

The economic and geopolitical fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic will play a minor role in driving China’s trade activity through mid-decade, Steven A. Altman, the report’s lead author and senior research scholar and director of the DHL Initiative on Globalization at the Stern School, said in an email. 

A projected decline in China’s GDP growth will be more of a contributing factor, Altman said. A slower pace of a nation’s GDP growth almost always correlates with slowing trade volumes, he said.

In addition, China will experience mean reversion in export growth over the next five years after greatly outperforming during 2020 and 2021, Altman said.

China will remain the world’s trade leader among the individual nations analyzed in the 272-page report. It will account for 3.4% of all export volumes through 2026 and 4.1% of all import volumes. The report analyzed trade activity in 173 nations.

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