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Global trade surpasses economic growth for first time in 6 years

Semiconductors drove the expansion, but falling smartphone sales and protectionism raise concerns

A worker checks a wafer chip in the clean room at the UTAC plant in Singapore.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The volume of global trade grew faster than the world economy in 2017 for the first time in six years, as rising demand for semiconductors added fuel to the industry's far-reaching supply chains, thereby ending a period in which global trade lagged economic growth.

The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis found that total trade volume climbed 4.5% last year, 3 percentage points higher than in 2016 for the largest increase since 2011. The bureau said 2017 "turned out to be a remarkably good year for world trade" when it announced the figures in late February.

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