Stronger growth particularly in China and the United States boosted demand for imports, which spurred intra-Asia trade as demand was transmitted through regional supply chains, the WTO explained.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said while the improved outlook for trade is welcome news, "substantial risks" that threaten the world economy remain in place and that could easily undermine any trade recovery.
Global trade growth accelerated sharply in the first half of 2017, prompting World Trade Organization economists to raise their forecast for trade expansion this year.
Global merchandise trade is expected to grow at a higher 3.6 per cent in 2017, compared with 1.6 per cent increase a year ago, on the back of resurgent Asian trade flows, according to revised estimates published by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Thursday. The strength of the revision is partly due to a modest improvement in the consensus forecast for world GDP growth (2.8 per cent in 2017 at market exchange rates, up from 2.3 per cent in 2016) and partly due to the composition of that growth.
"These risks include the possibility that protectionist rhetoric translates into trade restrictive actions, a worrying rise in global geopolitical tensions and a rising economic toll from natural disasters", he added.
The pace will moderate next year and is estimated at 3.2%, within a range of 1.4-4.4%, the WTO said. The organisation also stressed that rapid growth this year is unlikely to be repeated in 2018, in part because it will not be measured against the low 2016 base. "Second, monetary policy is expected to tighten in developed countries.", it said.
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