Recovery stalls on supply chain issues

Temporary pain or a bellwether of more disruptions to come?

World trade is in for a reality check as the huge spike since the start of 2021 is met with a large cooldown, leaving people wondering if the train has already lost steam and how to prepare for what’s ahead.

Economists were optimistic heading into the summer after all the signs of growth since the beginning of 2021. But, the growth we saw was quickly slowed down by backlogged supply chains and bottlenecks, resulting in fulfillment issues.

Fulfillment issues led to unsatisfied buyers, dramatically impacting their confidence in suppliers. Buyers are hesitant to place fresh orders, meaning there’s been a swift flattening to the growth curve. This slowdown can be a moment of reprieve for many supply chains. They can now take the time to work on fulfilling orders and invoices, reducing the strain on their chains. But, will buyers have their confidence in suppliers restored, or will they be sent packing—and what do these trends mean for the long-term health of supply chains?

Key findings


A lack of connectivity is hurting global trade

Without clear and transparent communication, buyers and suppliers are left blind to potential risks and incapable of swift reaction. Companies need to shift their favor from cost-control initiatives and instead invest in digital technology, allowing them to become more agile and adaptable.

Find out how to shift your focus

About the Tradeshift Index of Global Trade Health


Many of the world’s largest buyers and their suppliers use the Tradeshift platform to exchange digitized purchasing and invoicing information. The data these transactions yield provides us with a unique perspective on trading activity.

Tradeshift’s Index of Global Trade Health analyzes anonymized data flowing across our platform to reveal a view of how external events are impacting business-to-business commerce around the world.


The Q3 Index shows business-to-business transaction volumes (orders processed from buyers and invoices processed from suppliers) across the Tradeshift network during the period of July 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. We’ve also provided retrospective analysis of data for the previous 12 months.

We looked at quarter on quarter measurements for total transactions on our platform to provide a sense of how different regions are performing against the patterns we’re seeing globally.

The pandemic has been a key part of the narrative for our Index. To help visualise this we looked at cumulative growth in transactions to understand the degree to which different regions have been successful in addressing the shortfall in transactions caused by lockdown restrictions.

We acknowledge that there are limits to how accurately our view of what is happening on our network can reflect how complex global supply chains are reacting to a variety of external factors. Our data provides a useful snapshot that provides clues as to what might be happening to the global economy. The patterns we see in our data become more valuable as we combine them with other third-party data and expert insight, which you will see us draw on throughout this report.

Download the full report

Past Reports

Q2 2021 trade report

Q2 2021

New normal? Supply chains adapted, but companies have yet to decide whether the economics of resiliency stack up.

Other Links

Q3 2020 trade report

Q3 2020

After seeing trade activity slump to record lows as a result of the lockdown in early second quarter, signs of a recovery began to emerge in May and June as economies in the West began to reopen.

Other Links

Q2 2020 trade report

Q2 2020

Ever since reports of the virus first emerged in January, we've followed the impact of the pandemic on business-to-business trade and the health of global supply chains. It’s been an extraordinary few months.

Other Links