"We confront what may well be the deepest economic downturn of our lifetimes", the organization's Director General Roberto Azevedo said in a grim forecast.
"The immediate goal is to bring the pandemic under control and mitigate the economic damage to people, companies and countries".
- The inevitable decline in trade and production will have painful consequences for both households and businesses, in addition to the human suffering caused by the disease itself causes.
The WTO said in a statement global trade would fall this year by between 13 percent and 32 percent, giving a wide range because so much about the economic impact of the health crisis was uncertain. The pessimistic scenario of a 32 percent or more drop assumes a steeper initial decline and a more prolonged and incomplete recovery.
The pandemic, Azevedo said, is "first and foremost a health crisis", but also a major social and economic crisis which left millions of people around the world without job and income.
WTO economists believe the decline will likely exceed the trade slump brought on by the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.
"These numbers are ugly - there is no getting around that", Azevedo added. "There is no way around that". The report also pointed out that in 2019, 1.7 per cent of world exports originated from India, while 2.5 per cent of imports reached the country.
In its main annual forecast, the Geneva-based WTO highlighted that trade had already been slowing in 2019, before the emergence of the novel coronavirus in China at the end of previous year.
According to the WTO, total United States exports of merchandise in 2019 reached $1.6 trillion, a decline of 1%, while USA imports were $2.6 trillion, down by 2%.
For 2021, the organisation has forecast a rebound in global goods trade between 21- 24%, depending largely on the duration of the coronavirus outbreak and the effectiveness of policy responses.
With more than half of humanity asked to stay at home and economic activity grinding to a virtual standstill in many places, the havoc wreaked by COVID-19 coronavirus continues unabated.
"Whole sectors of national economies have been shut down, including hotels, restaurants, non-essential retail trade, tourism and significant shares of manufacturing", it added.
A strong rebound after Covid-19 passes is more likely if businesses view the pandemic as a temporary, one-time shock, it suggests. A turn in the wrong direction could easily see new challenges introduced to economies on top of the already present ones, further hindering the possibility of a rebound. Keeping markets open and predictable, as well as fostering a more generally favourable business environment, will be critical to spur the renewed investment we will need.