Global trade will expand by 2.8 per cent this year rather than the previously forecast 3.9 per cent, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said Thursday, citing slowing economic growth in western countries and various risks that could hurt global demand.

"Business and consumer confidence has slipped recently in developed countries," the Geneva-based trade body said in its latest twice-yearly forecast.

WTO experts added that global exports and imports face several uncertainties this year, including a sharper-than-expected slowdown of China's economy, as well as higher volatility of financial markets and exchange rates, the trade body said.

The downward revision means that trade is expected to grow at the same rate as last year.

"This will be the fifth consecutive year of trade growth below three per cent," WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said.

He warned that the actual value of global trade has been falling because of exchange rate effects and falling commodity prices.

At 3.4 per cent, Asia is expected to be the region with the fastest growing export volumes this year, followed by Europe and North America with 3.1 per cent each.

Latin American exports are projected to lag behind at 1.9 per cent.

Demand for imports to this region is expected to fall for the third year in a row.

In 2017, the WTO forecasts the pace of global trade growth to speed up to 3.6 per cent.

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