Businesswoman with a digital tablet showing and talking with male worker in distribution warehouse. Manager working with foreman in warehouse checking stock levels.

Merchandise trade in the G20 picked up in the fourth quarter, bringing 2021 to a close on a high, according to the latest data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Merchandise trade rose in Q4, the OECD reported, with exports rising 3.4% and imports jumping by 5.0%, compared with the previous quarter.

The increase in the value of merchandise trade came due to high commodity prices, particularly surging energy prices, the OECD said.

At the same time, supply chain pressure “appears to have eased towards the end of the year,” it noted.

Conversely, the growth of trade in services slowed in the fourth quarter, the OECD reported.

“While shipping costs kept the value of trade in transport services at record highs, trade in other services showed a slowdown notably in Europe, possibly reflecting a tightening of Covid-19 related restrictions towards the end of the year,” it said.

For the full year, annual merchandise exports for the G20 were up by 25.9% in 2021, and imports rose by 26.1%. Overall, the value of trade was up by 16% from pre-pandemic (2019) levels, it reported.

“While high commodity prices explain part of the increase, stimulus packages also played a role by spurring the demand for traded goods,” the OECD said.

Services exports were up by around 15.0% for the year, and imports rose 11.3%.

“While transport costs skyrocketed, travel, which includes the expenditure of non-residents abroad, recovered but remained subdued. Trade in computer, business and financial services performed well across most of the G20 economies in 2021,” the OECD reported.