Global services trade in the third quarter of 2020 fell 24% compared to the same period in 2019, according to statistics released by the WTO on 26 January. This represents only a small uptick from the 30% year-on-year decline registered in the second quarter, in marked contrast to the much stronger rebound in goods trade.
Unlike goods, services cannot be stockpiled, which means that despite pent-up demand, many of the revenue losses from cancelled flights, holidays abroad, restaurant meals, and cultural/recreational activities are likely to be permanent. Travel remains the most affected service sector, down 68% globally compared with the same period of 2019. In the third quarter of 2020, spending by international travellers was down 88% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 80% in both Asia and Africa, 78% in North America, and 55% in Europe. The relaxation of travel restrictions in Europe during the summer months produced only a modest rebound in services trade in the third quarter.
Preliminary figures, on a customs basis, from 72 countries accounting for 92% of global merchandise trade suggest that the rebound that started in the second half of the year picked up strength in October and November. The value of global merchandise trade in October 2020 was 3% higher than in October 2019, with a 6% increase year-on-year for the month of November.
Source & full text: WTO