COVID-19 and its Impact on Trade and Transport Sectors in Tanzania

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Katera, Lucas
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African Economic Research Consortium
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the countries around the East African region in different ways with its impact varying across the countries. Also, each country has adopted its approach to dealing with this health crisis, even though they share common borders and also a lot of activities are done across borders, including trade in all sizes. As a result, all sectors whose activities involve crossing borders were heavily affected in different ways mainly due to limitations of the flow of goods and people from one country to another. These problems were amplified by countries’ mistrust of the approach used by others in dealing with the pandemic. This study examines the extent to which COVID-19 has affected the trade and transport sectors in Tanzania. In the trade sector, the study examines the performance of the sector and goes into deep analysis of selected goods. In the transport sector, the study focuses on assessing the effective flow of goods along the central corridor. Also, the tourism sector has been analysed, given that the transport sector is one of its important aspects in its chain. In that manner, the study assesses the tourists’ arrival in Zanzibar, which is one of the main sources of Zanzibar’s income. Overall, the study analyses the performance of transport and trade sectors in Tanzania before and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study used secondary data from the Bank of Tanzania (BOT), Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) and lastly from the Zanzibar Commission for Tourists and the Department of Immigration Zanzibar. Descriptive statistics were used to capture trends of variables that constituted the trade and transport sectors before and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings show that COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the trade and transport sectors differently. In some cases, even within the same sector, different sub-sectors have been affected differently. The trade sector was not very much affected, though imports were relatively more affected. Due to fewer imports during the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade balance was not very much affected like it was in 2019. In the transport sector, port activities were not very much affected by COVID-19 due to measures taken by the port to increase efficiency to reduce congestion that would lead to the spread of the pandemic. However, transit goods were negatively affected due to conditions imposed at borders like mandatory screening and quarantine of travellers for a specified time. Tourism was also negatively affected due to travel restrictions and flight cancellation.