World trade continued to rebound strongly in the first half of this year, rising by over a quarter from year-ago levels, with emerging economies showing particularly powerful export growth, World Trade Organization figures showed.

Trade typically grows and contracts at much faster rates than the overall economy, but the WTO data confirm the strength of the global recovery in the first half of this year.

Global exports of merchandise goods, measured by value in current dollars not adjusted for price changes, were 25.8 percent higher in the second quarter than a year earlier, after a 25.7 percent rise in the first quarter, WTO statistics showed.

That meant trade in the first half of the year was about 25 percent higher by value than a year earlier, but still below its mid-2008 peaks.

The second-quarter rise in Russia and other former Soviet republics was 43.9 percent, and in Asia 37.5 percent.

Even North America, including Mexico, outpaced the global figure, with a rise of 28.5 percent, but export growth in Europe at 13.2 percent grew at only half the overall global rate.

The figures are based on monthly statistics from about 70 economies representing about 90 percent of world trade.

They show that merchandise trade actually declined in April and May, then rose in June. However, such monthly figures are highly volatile because of seasonal factors for which they are not adjusted.

Global exports in the second quarter were 7 percent higher than in the first quarter of this year, the WTO said.

Global exports contracted in value terms by 23 percent in 2009 to $12.15 trillion.

The WTO expects they will grow by over 10 percent in volume terms this year after shrinking by 12 percent in 2009. (Reuters)