Editorial :COVID-19 suppresses import/export trade

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The ranging novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has suppressed import and export trade. The volume of goods passing through the country’s two seaports declined by 44.9 per cent to 3.77 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2020.

Data from the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) shows that total throughput reduced from 6.84 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2019 to 3.77 million tonnes for the same period this year. According to the Ghana Shippers Authority’s maritime trade review, total export trade volume for 2020 first quarter was 996,331 metric tonnes, representing a 66.1% decrease compared to 2019.

Import trade volume decreased by 24.5 per cent and export trade volume decreased by 66.1 per cent as compared to quarter one last year.

The cargo throughput for the seaports of Ghana (Tema and Takoradi) for quarter one 2020 was 3.77 million tonnes. There has been a major global economic downturn in the last quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.

This is expected to continue into the subsequent quarters of 2020. Global merchandise trade by volume fell by three per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020, according to the WTO. The second quarter year-on-year is estimated to decline by 18.5 per cent.

It is expected that after this period of COVID-induced dip, the shipping industry will be back to its growth ways.

Import commodities such as chemicals, processed food/beverages, general cargo, limestone, grains/flour, petroleum products, iron/steel/plates/pipes, bagged rice and other liquid bulk saw major declines for 2020 and 2019 respectively.

As noted before, the general trend in world seaborne trade saw increased growth after the financial crisis of 2008/2009, and it is based on this assumption that it is generally recognised that the COVID pandemic has affected global merchandise trade but that is a passing phase and the country will rebound to increased import and export trade.

The important thing is to suppress the virus by either producing a vaccine, or containing its spread by observing strict health protocols.

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