"Whatever the cause..."
The WTO in their concluding paragraph from their September 27, 2016 Trade Statistics and Outlook is not sure why global trade growth is declining.
A number of reasons have been advanced to explain the decline in the ratio of trade growth to GDP growth in recent years, including the changes in the import content of demand, absence of trade liberalization, creeping protectionism, a contraction of global value chains (GVCs), and possibly the increasing role of the digital economy and e-commerce, but all have likely played a role. Whatever the cause, the recent run of weak trade, and economic, growth suggests the need for a better understanding of changing global economic relationships. The WTO, and other international organizations, are working hard to understand this current evolution and its implications for continued growth.
Notice on the WTO chart above that despite the last 90 months of ZIRP & NIRP, global trade growth relative to GDP has recently plunged and both variables have been well below their respective highs all during that 90 month or 7.5 year period. State promotion of credit expansion has worked perfectly at expanding credit and now the borrowers have the job of turning debt in equity via the long process of amortization or the quicker route of liquidation. If borrowers are preoccupied with debt repayment as the competition for income (sales) increases then sellers better plan on more price and currency competition as well.
The WTO projects that export growth in 2016 from North America will drop from their April 2016 guess of 3.1% to their current forecast of 0.7%.
I have been tracking Household Debt, GDP, Foreign Direct Investment and Balance of Trade and it's clear that for the last nearly two decades, net investment capital is outbound from Canada and in the last 7.5 years of ZIRP & NIRP, Canadian net trade has been mostly negative.
Investment capital travels to where the returns are high relative to risk. The cost of Labour is a key expense and sleepless AI labour is a direct competitor. ITEM CBC News June 15, 2016 "42% of Canadian jobs at high risk of being affected by automation, new study suggests"
On a provincial basis, Ontario has the lowest proportion — 41.1 per cent — of jobs at high risk of automation, while P.E.I. has the highest with over 45 per cent of jobs at high risk of automation over the next 10 to 20 years.
The current levels of peak housing prices in Vancouver and Toronto requires much more labour input from a labour pool that must compete for income not just locally but globally as well and that competition is going to won by those with better education and mobility resources than their peers.
For those of you thinking of getting off the grid, here you go, the home farming robot: