The total volume of goods exported through the country's two seaports increased by 44.2 per cent in the first quarter of this year to 2.94 million tonnes compared to the same period last year.
The growth is an indication that export-led policies initiated by the government to address the country’s trade imbalances have started yielding the desired results.
Data released by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) on May 23, showed that the development was influenced by 222,351 tonnes of break bulk cargo or general cargo and 2.21 million tonnes of goods such as coal, cocoa and iron ore.
The seaborne exports went to various destinations in the world. Majority of these exports went to the Far East range.
The Far East range received a total of 2,182,972 tonnes (74 per cent of total exports) while the North Continent range received a total of 351,597 tonnes (or 12 per cent of total exports).
However, the country’s seaborne trade volume recorded an increase of 10.2 per cent for the first quarter of 2019 over the same period in 2018, well above the projected world merchandised trade performance.
This comprised total import and export trade volume of 6.84 million tonnes and 333,768 tonnes of transit/transshipment cargo.
Imports witnessed a decline of 7.8 per cent for the same period. Total imports for the review period was 3.56 million tonnes.
This comprised 1.27 million tonnes of liner cargo, 299,399 tonnes of break bulk, 1.08 million tonnes of dry bulk cargo and 907,906 tonnes of liquid bulk imports.
For the trade types, there were recorded decreases in liner imports, break bulk imports and liquid bulk imports of 17.72 per cent, 31.70 per cent and 5.23 per cent respectively.
There was, however, an increase of 17.53 per cent in dry bulk imports.
Shipping line performance
Twenty-three shipping lines were involved in the containerised cargo trade which amounted to 162,518 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) for the review period.
The highest operators were Maersk Line with 48,116 TEUs (29.64 per cent of the container trade) and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) with 33,870 TEUs (20.84 per cent of the container trade).
Twenty-two shipping agents were involved in the containerised trade to and from Ghana. Together, they handled 162,518 TEUs for the review period.
The highest performing agencies were Maersk Ghana Ltd with 48,116 TEUs (29.61 per cent of the containerised trade) and MSCA with 34,154 TEUs (21.02 per cent of the containerised trade).
Sixty-six shipping lines and charterers participated in transporting the over 6.5 million tonnes of Ghana’s seaborne cargo (import and export) through the Ports of Tema and Takoradi during the period.
The high performers in liner trade were Maersk Line (17.30 per cent) and Mediterranean Shipping Company (15.86 per cent). In the break bulk trade, Maersk Line moved the highest volume (24.29 per cent), followed by Mediterranean Shipping Company with 14.72 per cent. High performers for the dry bulk trade were I.M.T (57.72 per cent) and H.C Trading with 16.14 per cent. In the liquid bulk trade, BP Oil International Ltd lifted the highest volume of 37.90 per cent.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) predicts world trade will continue to face strong headwinds in 2019 and 2020 after growing more slowly than expected in 2018 due to trade protectionism, tight credit policies, rising trade tensions between US and China, and increased economic uncertainty.
The World Bank estimates global economic growth to slow to 2.9 per cent in 2019 from 3.1 per cent in 2018, while WTO economists expect merchandise trade volume growth to fall from three per cent in 2018 to 2.6 per cent in 2019.
However, the two economic giants, the US and China, have defied the above predictions of further economic slowdowns by posting strong growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 3.2 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively for the first quarter of 2019.
Both economies got off to a good start in 2019 as more indicators showed positive signs of stabilisation for the first quarter of 2019.
The positive performance of these two economies also correlated with the global shipping industry performance, with most shipping lines recording gains in their bottom line at the end of the first quarter 2019.
The global performance has always had a direct impact on Ghana’s international trade performance.