Global trade slumps ignite a new chapter in globalization
Despite a slight upturn in Q2, global trade growth continues to underperform, falling 4 points short of projections, reflecting economic instability worldwide.
Trading in troubled waters: who emerges victoriously?
Q3 2023 saw a significant drop in global trade activity, with a drastic dip of 6 points below the baseline. This fall is attributed to circumstantial factors like high-interest rates, the cost-of-living crisis, and enduring shifts like escalating geopolitical strife and protectionist industrial policies.
Export-based economies like Germany and China suffered, while India, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Mexico boosted their trade significantly.
Tradeshift’s CEO, James Stirk, confirms this is something to keep an eye on, “The volatility that has characterized the past two years transcends cyclical fluctuations; it signifies a systemic shift with profound and enduring consequences for the business landscape and global trade.”
A Steep Decline: Global trade activity spiraled 6 points below the baseline, marking the steepest quarterly dip in a year and a half.
Manufactured goods demand worldwide has sharply dropped: Retailers may encounter a tough Q4 as 30% of respondents in a survey by PwC expressed intentions to spend less this Christmas compared to previous years.
The trade finance gap has widened to a whopping $2.5 trillion. This is causing increased challenges for small and medium-sized businesses to fulfill orders.
A Resilient US: While US transactions slipped to 3 points below the expected range, the fall was more restrained compared to other global markets.
Supplier diversification to Mexico, Vietnam, Malaysia and India has led to increased trade activity levels. Vietnam had the highest economic growth in Asia last year (8% growth) and was one of the few countries globally to achieve two consecutive years of growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Embrace the need for speed and adaptability
In an ever-changing global landscape, a new form of globalization is emerging, characterized by increased polarization. This shift poses challenges to traditional hierarchies and requires businesses to readjust their strategies quickly.
Supply chain operators must demonstrate agility by rapidly forming new trading connections to succeed in this complex and fragmented trading environment. Although the challenges are substantial, those who adapt to these changes will find boundless opportunities in the future.
About the Tradeshift Index of Global Trade Health
Many of the world’s largest buyers and their suppliers use Tradeshift’s trade technology network to exchange digitized purchasing and invoicing information. The data these transactions yield provides us with a unique awareness of trading activity between businesses.
Tradeshift’s Index of Global Trade Health analyzes anonymized world trade data flowing across our platform to reveal a timely perspective of how external events impact business-to-business commerce worldwide.
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 world trade data provides a useful snapshot of 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, something which you will see us draw on throughout this report.
The Index of Global Trade Health compares business-to-business transaction volumes (orders processed from buyers and invoices processed from suppliers) submitted via the Tradeshift platform against a ‘baseline’ created by analyzing medium-term seasonal trends in the transaction data that flows across our platform.
A reading that meets the baseline indicates growth aligned with expectations against historical trends. Readings greater than and below the baseline indicate above-trend and below-trend growth.
Looking at the data this way helps give a sense of how volatile activity is across different sectors and geographies. For example, a sudden rise in orders might trigger orders to jump at a rate exceeding what we consider normal. By contrast, waning demand might trigger volatility in the opposite direction.
We consistently strive to improve and evolve the accuracy of our analysis. As a result, from time to time, you may see small revisions to historical numbers reported in previous versions of the Index.
Global trade has faced significant challenges in adapting to the realities of an economy scarred by a vicious circle of rampant inflation, rising instability, and unpredictable consumer spending patterns.
Suppliers are feeling the impact of falling order volumes as buyers attempt to realign inventory volumes with changes in consumer spending.
Rising costs and a slowdown in demand kicks off a new game and new rules for global trade. Global supply chain activity continued to fall against expectations in Q4, ending the year 3 points below the baseline.
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