World trade growth slowed during the first half of 2018, to year-on-year rate of 2.6% (for imports) vs 5% at the end of 2017, according to volume data calculated by the Netherlands Central Planning Bureau.

World trade growth

Emerging Asia remains the most robust sector of import growth by far, up 8% year on year, followed by the United States at +4%. Europe’s import growth was barely 2% and Japan’s close to zero.

A Bloomberg analysis this morning by David Fickling asserts that trade is decreasing on a quarter-on-quarter basis, placing the blame on escalating trade conflicts. This is true but misleading, given the obvious seasonal pattern in quarter-on-quarter trade growth, as shown in the chart below.

Rolling 3-month QoQ change