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, as a result of the ranging novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which had combined with other factors to suppress import and export trade.
The drop in throughput was influenced by corresponding decline in all the trade types namely: imports, exports and transit/transshipment.
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.
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 total transit/transshipment trade volume in the first quarter 2020 also decreased by 76.1 per cent over first quarter 2019.
The cargo throughput for the seaports of Ghana (Tema and Takoradi) for quarter one 2020 was 3.77 million tonnes. Cargo throughput for the Port of Tema was 2.96 million tonnes representing 79 per cent of the total, while the Port of Takoradi recorded 804,437 tonnes, representing 21 per cent of the total seaborne trade.
Transit/Transshipment imports amounted to 61,568 tonnes, while transit/transshipment exports recorded 17,884 tonnes.
Total import and export trade volume for the review period January to March 2020 recorded a net effect of negative 43.3 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
The data further reveals that imports for the first quarter 2020 decreased by 24.52 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. Total imports for the review period first quarter 2020 was 2.7 million tonnes.
This comprised 205,573 tonnes of liner cargo, 112,662 tonnes of break bulk, 1.63 million tonnes of dry bulk cargo and 747,727 tonnes of liquid bulk imports.
The total export trade volume for first quarter 2020 was 996,331 tonnes. This represents 66.1 per cent decrease compared to first quarter 2019.
This was made up of 458,684 tonnes of liner items, 148,427 tonnes of break bulk items, 338,390 tonnes of dry bulk items and 50,830 tonnes of liquid bulk.
The nine import commodities recorded significant decreases which cumulatively contributed to about 64 per cent of the total decrease in import trade volume for the period January to March 2020.
The export commodities recorded major decreases in the review period. Cumulatively, these commodities contributed to about 96 per cent of the total volume of decreases recorded in the export trade volume for the period January to March 2020.
Total laden containers for imports and exports for the first quarter 2020 was 119,547 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). This represents a decrease of 26.44 per cent compared to first quarter 2019.
Total import laden containers for first quarter 2020 was 80,686 TEUs; a 31.52 per cent fall compared to similar quarter 2019.Total export laden containers for 2020 was 38,861 TEUs; representing a decrease of 13.06 per cent compared to last year.
The world economy is expected to experience its worst performance due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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. Indeed, COVID-19 has affected global trade negatively.
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.
The first quarter 2020 merchandise trade volume also saw a two per cent decline from the last quarter of 2019. This downward trend is expected to continue into the latter part of the year 2020.
However, the general trend in world seaborne trade has seen increased growth after the financial crisis of 2008/2009. It is therefore expected that after this period of COVID-induced dip, the shipping industry will be back to its growth ways.
Time charter rates for container vessels have dipped since January 2020 but the order book for new ships is also low. These factors may balance out to ensure stability in freight rates, at least, into the next year.
Ghana has had its share of the impact of the covid-19 pandemic. Cargo throughput has decreased by a whopping 44.9 per cent year-on-year for the first quarter of 2020. All the trade types namely; imports, exports and transit/transshipment performed poorly during the first quarter of 2020.