The global trade recovery from the COVID-19 crisis hit a record high in the first quarter of 2021, up 10 percent year-over-year, and China is expected to be one of the main drivers of the growth, said a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Wednesday.
Positive trends from the last few months of 2020 grew stronger in early 2021, according to the Global Trade Update. The world's trade volume in goods and services in first three months rose about 4 percent quarter-over-quarter, a figure higher than the pre-pandemic level.
Significant rebound continues to be driven by the strong export performance of East Asian economies, whose early success in pandemic control allowed them to recover fast and capitalize on booming global demand for COVID-19-related products, the report said.
China's exports, in particular, registered a strong increase not only from 2020 averages but also in relation to pre-pandemic levels.
The country exported over 4.61 trillion yuan ($706 billion) in goods and services from January to March, up 38.7 percent from a year earlier, data of National Bureau Statistics showed.
However, uneven and imbalanced economic recovery has become a problem, the report noted, especially among developing countries and those economies in transition, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.
Looking forward, the UN report projected that trade will continue to grow in 2021, with total volume reaching $6.6 trillion in the second quarter.
But the positive outlook is largely dependent on lifting pandemic restrictions, maintaining positive trend in commodity prices, overall restraints from trade protectionist policies and supportive macroeconomic and fiscal conditions, said the report.
"Nevertheless, fiscal stimulus packages, particularly in developed countries, are expected to strongly support the global trade recovery throughout 2021," the report emphasized, "the value of global trade should also rise due to positive trends across commodity prices."