Prime News Ghana

Covid-19: Education, tourism worst-hit sectors—WTO

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh
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The effect of the coronavirus-induced border closures and travel restrictions was grossly felt by services trade, with education and tourism being the hardest-hit sectors across the globe, according to the latest trade report on the virus pandemic issued by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The report said international tourism in 2020 is expected to register its worst performance since 1950, while some higher educational institutions are facing a potential drop in international student enrolment of 50 to 75 percent.

“Covid-19 has triggered an unprecedented crisis for the tourism sector. The situation is similar, albeit less extreme, for education services: universities and other higher education institutions have traditionally relied on the physical presence of international students to export their services, though online courses have been growing,” said the report.

Globally, tourism accounts for one in four of the net jobs created over the past five years and an estimated 10 percent of economic output.

In the education sector, tuition fees account for the largest share of most universities’ revenue, with the current number of over 5m international students typically paying higher fees than their domestic counterparts, according to the WTO.

The report, titled “Cross-border mobility, Covid-19 and global trade”, was released on Tuesday.

It explained the harm that has been done to trade in goods and services arising from the temporary border closures and travel restrictions linked to the pandemic.

“International trade and investment have always relied on the cross-border mobility of individuals. Mobility barriers significantly affect trade in goods, through their impact on transport services and on information and transaction costs,” the report said.

To contain the spread of Covid-19, many WTO members imposed temporary border closures and travel restrictions.

Ghana’s borders currently remain closed to human traffic as part of measures to control the spread of the virus, but preparations are ongoing to get them reopened for business by September 1, 2020.