WASHINGTON -- The World Trade Organization on Wednesday lowered its forecast for global trade growth in 2013, saying economic improvement in the U.S. would not be enough to offset Europe's struggles.
The dimmer outlook for trade this year follows a historically poor 2012. Global trade expanded just 2% last year, down from 5.2% in 2011.
Excluding years in which worldwide trade contracted, last year was the smallest annual increase since 1981, the WTO said.
Growth will improve this year, but not as much as forecast last fall, the WTO said.
The organization said trade would expand about 3.3% in 2013, down from its September forecast of 4.5%. The 20-year average has been 5.3% growth.
The world still is trying to fully recover from the Great Recession and financial crisis. From 1990-2008, the average annual growth in global trade was 6%.