LAHORE - WTO economists announced on Friday that they are revising their 2011 trade forecast to 5.8pc, down from their earlier conservative estimate of 6.5pc, since trade has grown more slowly than expected in recent months and the outlook for the global economy is increasingly uncertain, says a press release. Since the original forecast for 2011 was issued on April 22, developed economies in particular have been buffeted by strong headwinds, including the lingering effects of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the prolonged budget impasse and credit downgrade in the United States, and the ongoing euro area sovereign debt crisis. Disappointing output and employment data have damaged business and consumer confidence and contributed to the recent turmoil in financial markets. In light of the deteriorating economy, the WTO now expects world merchandise exports to increase by 5.8pc in volume terms in 2011, supported by real GDP growth of 2.5pc. Developed economies exports are expected to rise by 3.7pc and their output to go up by 1.5pc. Meanwhile, shipments from developing economies are estimated to increase by 8.5pc. During the economic crisis of 2008-09, WTO members were for the most part able to resist protectionist pressures, but their collective will has recently been tested by weaker economic growth, high unemployment and forced austerity. Another downturn in the global economy could strain their resolve to the breaking point and trigger a descent into self-destructive protectionism.