A cocktail of fresh challenges and familiar problems hit global trade

Just as we thought supply chains might have a moment of relief, the world had other ideas.

Geopolitical tensions, aggression in Eastern Europe, and rising inflation rates have spelled out a rocky start to 2022 for global trade activity.

We ended 2021 with signs of growth for many regions as supply chains began addressing bottlenecks and backlogs in orders. As new waves of disruption emerged at the start of the year, this growth was put on hold with many regions citing drops in transaction volumes, invoice volumes, and order volumes. One of the common troubles seen throughout? A rise in inflation and the price of commodities.

The rise in the cost of living and inflation, namely the price of gasoline for people worldwide, has caused consumers to halt their placement of new orders. Opting instead to save their money to offset the difficult market, this trend has created a troubling outlook for suppliers. Experts warn that in the next few quarters, enterprises may need to utilize their cash reserves to balance out the decrease in demand. But, the outlook isn’t fully bleak, as some regions around the world have shown only moderate impacts on their trade levels to date.

Key findings

Perspectives

Where do enterprises go from here?

The focus remains on adopting and implementing advanced software and technological solutions to help create efficiencies in their supply chain processes. Outside the tech sector, some countries have seen increased benefits in employing a nearshoring approach. Canada and Mexico have seen significant rises in their invoice volumes after adopting this method, giving hope to other countries around the world.

About the Tradeshift Index of Global Trade Health

Purpose

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.

Methodology

The Q1 Index shows business-to-business transaction volumes (orders processed from buyers and invoices processed from suppliers) across the Tradeshift network during the period of January 1, 2022, through March 31, 2022.

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 see globally.

The pandemic has been a key part of the narrative for our Index. To help visualize this, we looked at cumulative growth in transactions to understand the degree to which different regions have successfully addressed 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 valuable snapshot that offers 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

Q4 2021 trade report

Q4 2021

Global trade passes the latest resilience test... for now at least.

Q2 2021 trade report

Q3 2021

Recovery stalls on supply chain issues. Temporary pain or a bellwether of more disruptions to come?

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