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Trade growth slows down for top economies

A sharp slowdown in merchandise trade growth hit major world economies in the second quarter of 2011, affecting both imports and exports, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said on Wednesday.

The deceleration in import and export growth affected all the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the bloc of BRICS emerging markets except Brazil and China, the OECD said in its quarterly report.

Total imports of G7 countries (the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan), and BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) rose by just 1.1 per cent in the second quarter versus 10.1 per cent in the previous three months.

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Export growth for the same group slowed to 1.9 per cent from 7.7 per cent in the first quarter.

Weakening flows of goods and services reflect the fragility of the global economy and can largely be attributed to lower demand and belt-tightening in the developed world, notably the United States.

China and the United States saw the most dramatic slowdowns in import growth in the period – China's imports grew 0.7 per cent versus 11.1 per cent in the first quarter, its slowest rate since the first quarter of 2009.

That contrasted with strong exports from China, the world's largest exporter. Those picked up by 10 per cent, compared with 2.9 per cent growth in the previous quarter.

In the United States, growth in imports slowed to 3 per cent from 11.1 per cent in the first quarter, while export growth fell to 2.6 per cent from 5.6 per cent.

Brazil was the only country to see a sharp pickup in import growth, with inflows of foreign goods rising 11.2 per cent compared with 5.7 per cent in the first quarter.

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