World trade volume during the first quarter of 2009 fell 11.3 percent below the fourth quarter of 2008, according to an independent research institute.
CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis said the decline amounted to an annualized drop of 38 percent, the steepest fall since the institute began to track data in 1991.
Leading the downturn was Japan, whose imports dropped by 16.6 percent, and exports by 28.2 percent during the quarter.
CPB said global trade volume during the first quarter of this year was 15 percent lower than during the same quarter last year. Over the 12 months ending March 31, global trade volume was only 2.9 percent lower than a year earlier, CPB said.
For 2009, the World Trade Organization has forecast trade will contract by 9 percent.
Contact Alan Field at firstname.lastname@example.org.