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Global exports regain pre-crisis level--Dutch CPB
* Export volumes above April 2008 level
* Imports not yet fully recovered
By Jonathan Lynn
GENEVA, Jan 21 (Reuters) - World exports have finally topped levels last seen before the financial crisis that started in 2008, giving a further sign of global economic recovery, figures from the Dutch CPB research institute showed on Friday.
The credit crunch and subsequent recession led to the biggest slump in world trade since World War Two. Trade volumes began to recover in mid-2009 and grew strongly in 2010 as firms rebuilt inventories and took advantage of the economic upturn.
The institute's latest world trade monitor showed that its index of global merchandise exports, set at 100 in the year 2000, had reached 164.1 in November 2010 -- above the previous high of 163.6 in April 2008.
Global imports have still not regained pre-crisis levels so the overall level of world trade has not yet fully recovered ground lost in the crisis. The sum of global imports and exports should be the same, but statistical differences in different countries often lead to a disparity.
The institute, whose data are used by the World Bank and European Commission, said the average increase in global trade volumes in the three months ended November had been 1.0 percent, up from 0.2 percent in the three months to October.
This increase in the rate of change in the statistically smoothed figures, known as momentum, was the first since January 2010, it said.
If continued, this would suggest that trade -- and hence the world economy as a whole -- is beginning to pick up again. The recovery had slowed down in recent months with the completion of the initial wave of inventory-building.
Looking at the more volatile monthly figures, world trade volume increased by 2.3 percent in November from October, after an upwardly revised 1.0 percent rise in October.
That largely reflected a surge in trade flows in and out of emerging economies, whose imports jumped 5.1 percent in the month, with the strongest growth in Asia. (For full CPB monitor go to bit.ly/fAo8HN )
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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