World merchandise trade slowed to 4 per cent last year, reverting back to previous levels, after 'unusually strong growth in world trade volume' in 1994-95, a new report by the World Trade Organisation says. Trade growth was expected to increase modestly this year, depending on the scale of growth in Western Europe, Asia and Latin America, and could go as high as 6 per cent, economists said. Last year, Asia suffered a slowdown to 1 per cent export growth and 4.5 per cent import growth, falling far below output growth. In contrast, North America with export and import growth both at 5.5 per cent, Latin America with trade growth of about 11 per cent, and Western Europe with export growth at 4 per cent and import growth at 3 per cent, experienced volumes double their gross domestic product growth. In value terms world merchandise exports grew beyond US$5 trillion for the first time to $5.1 trillion, but the 4 per cent growth was impacted by the strengthening of the US dollar last year against major currencies.