World trade has taken a beating in recent years, and 2020 was no exception.

Ever since the global financial crisis of 2009, growth in international trade has been sluggish—something dubbed “slowbalization.” The higher tariffs and trade wars of the Trump administration have also taken a toll. The volume of trade actually fell in 2019, even though the world economy continued to expand.

This year, the arrival of the pandemic has had a devastating impact on economic activity around the world. Global trade has shrunk accordingly, by 9.2%, according to projections from the World Trade Organization.

The ebbs and flows of trade mainly reflect changes in economic growth around the world. Therefore, the trade outlook for next year depends largely on whether the world can put the pandemic behind it. But there are several reasons for thinking that policy responses to the pandemic, as well as increasing concerns about national…

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