Global freight data points to weak growth

Paris, France: The overall picture for global freight is one of growth slowing. The latest global freight data collected by the International Transport Forum at the OECD highlight concern over economic recovery.

Total external trade by sea, in tonnes, declined through the second quarter in the United States, while in the EU trade stagnated according to preliminary estimates of tonnes of goods carried.

The air cargo recovery has faltered and volumes are now only 9% above pre-crisis levels in the EU area compared to 15% in February. External trade in tonnes of goods carried by air in the United States has shown practically no growth and total trade in tonnes is only 2% above the pre-crisis peak.

Recovery in the 27 EU countries and the USA has so far been led mainly by exports to Asia, the report says. However, the positive trend observed in the previous brief has reversed and tonnes exported by sea from the Unites States and the EU-27 to Asia decline in Q2.

Trade with China and ASEAN countries in particular shows evidence of an economic slowdown, the report says. Sea and air exports from the USA to China declined between February 2011 and June 2011. EU-27 exports to China grew in the second quarter but have been flat for the first half of 2011. Total trade with ASEAN countries by air and sea declined for both regions but trade with India seems to have resisted the otherwise downward trend.

Inland transport by rail and road continue to recover very slowly. In the EU area, volumes are still 9% and 13% respectively below pre-crisis levels, when measured in seasonally adjusted tonne-kilometres. The stronger growth trend in rail freight in the United States and Russia has also slowed down with volumes now 16% and 7% below 2008 peak levels, the report says.

The International Transport Forum Statistics Brief on Global Trade and Transport presents the latest global freight transport trends based on the Global Trade and Transport Database and the ITF Quarterly Transport Statistics. The data is collected by the Secretariat through a questionnaire and from external sources, including Eurostat, US Census and Japan Customs.