International transport services registered a year-on-year fall of 19% in 2020, according to data from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Overall, the relatively positive short-term prospects for world trade are clouded by regional disparities, continued weakness in trade in services, and delayed vaccination schedules, especially in poor countries.
Above all, Covid-19 continues to pose the greatest threat to business prospects, as new waves of infection could easily undermine any expected recovery.
Trade in nominal US dollar terms fell even more dramatically than trade in volume terms in 2020.
Thus, the values of world merchandise exports fell 8% compared to the previous year, while commercial services income fell 20%.
Trade in services was particularly affected by restrictions on international travel, which prevented the provision of services that required physical presence or face-to-face interaction.
For all of 2020, international travel and transportation services decreased 63 and 19%, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Other Business Services category (including financial services and computer services) held up well, dropping just 2 percent.
Finally, goods-related services fell 13 percent.
International transportation and travel services were directly affected by containment measures designed to limit the spread of Covid-19.
For now, the volume of world trade increased 0.5% in April compared to March 2021, according to the Office for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB, for its acronym in English) of the Netherlands.
Until now, the recovery in world trade started earlier and has been stronger than that of other components of world production, as the impact of the pandemic on activities requiring face-to-face contact initially encouraged a shift in demand towards the consumption of durable goods, which have a high commercial intensity.