World trade contracted by 2% over the first half of 2015, as sluggish consumer demand combined with slumping commodity prices continue to hit traders hard.

The World Trade Monitor, data from the respected Centraal Planbureau (CPB), the Dutch statistical bureau, shows that despite a recent uptick, trade growth continues to lag that of global GDP after decades of outstripping it.

After a 1.3% decline in May, global trade rose by 2% in June – with the return to growth shared among developed and emerging economies. The largest upswings occurred in emerging Asia while the only region showing contracting import and export growth was Central and Eastern Europe.

Analysts have chosen to focus on the positives – the performance of June – although data from the months of July and August, in which the Chinese market bottomed out, won’t appear until September and October.

“The pick-up in world trade volumes in June is another reason to doubt the narrative from the markets that the global economy has slowed sharply this year. Nevertheless, trade growth is likely to remain sluggish in the years ahead as the expansion of global supply chains and efforts to liberalise trade both appear to have stalled,” says Andrew Kenningham of Capital Economics.

He blames the first half slump on the drop in commodity prices and appreciation of the US dollar, rather than faltering demand, and points out that other key indicators such as Suez Canal volumes and IATA passenger data remain relatively strong.

“An increase of over 30% in the next five years underscores China’s intent to remain a new trade hub and lynchpin for the rest of the economic world,” Krispen Atkinson, IHS

Given that it now looks unlikely that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be concluded before the US election campaign gets underway, however, Kenningham has a muted outlook for the next few years of global trade.

“Last month’s meeting of trade ministers in Hawaii failed to break the deadlock on pharmaceutical regulations and the freeing of dairy and sugar trade which have so far prevented a deal being reached. The poor prospects for trade liberalisation are one reason why we are downbeat about the outlook for world trade, at least for the coming few years,” he adds.

Analysts at IHS, however, remain bullish over the medium-term prospects for global trade. In a new report, the research house forecasts that China’s trade will continue to rise by 5% per year over the next five years.

“These increases will not be the double-digit rises seen before the 2008 global economic crisis. However, an increase of over 30% in the next five years underscores China’s intent to remain a new trade hub and lynchpin for the rest of the economic world, cementing the more recent trade routes established via China and Asia within the emerging market universe,” says Krispen Atkinson, principal analyst at IHS Maritime and Trade.

IHS credits bigger container ships and their ability to streamline the supply chain with the positive outlook, and predicts a “trade boom” between Southeast Asia and North America, with Vietnam forecasted to experience a 44% hike in bilateral trade with the region and a 43% rise in trade with Europe.

That said, it’s clear that some of this forecast will have factored in the completion of the TPP, of which many analysts have predicted Vietnam to be the biggest beneficiary. Should the deal falter and drag out over the next couple of years – as many have claimed it will – then expect Vietnam’s growth to be less positive.