Executive Briefings

Recovery Continues in Global Freight Transport, But Uncertainties Remain

The latest update of global freight data collected by the International Transport Forum at the OECD shows that since the financial crisis of 2008: the economic recovery remains uncertain, especially when considered in combination with the risks posed by geopolitical events for the global economy; road, rail and sea freight transport levels remain below pre-crisis volumes in December 2010, by 5 percent to 15 percent; air cargo has fully recovered from the crisis, but the latest data show slower growth and even declines in some markets; and road and rail freight show improvements - with the road freight trend in the EU pointing upwards, with quarterly tonne-km growth of 1 percent for Q1 through Q3 of 2010.

The overall picture for global freight is positive and freight transport volumes continue to improve, according to preliminary data. In the EU area, total external trade (in tonnes) by sea and air grew compared to the forum's previous briefing, while in the United States growth was less marked. However, the latest monthly data (December 2010) show also that for total exports and imports by sea, the recovery is still weak in the sense that the volumes are below their pre-crisis levels measured in tonnes of goods carried.

External trade by sea shows variations by region. U.S. trade by sea has stagnated since September 2010 in tonnes goods moved and fell in the last quarter of 2010, especially for Latin America compared with the previous quarter. Data for EU27 are more dynamic although trends for some segments (notably imports from China by sea) show a slowing down and even a decline, measured in tonnes of goods transported.

Recovery also remains uncertain. While air cargo has fully recovered from the crisis, external trade in tonnes of goods moved by air in the United States has now fallen for five consecutive months when measured using seasonally adjusted data. Both the EU27 and the United States' external trade by air shows slower growth or declines in nearly all markets in the last quarter 2010 compared with growth in the previous quarter.

More regional inland transport by rail and road shows improvements. Growth in road freight in the EU area has picked up in the third quarter of 2010, when measured using seasonally adjusted data on tonne kilometers performed. The positive trend in rail freight continues as well. In the United States, the rail freight volume is now only 5 percent below pre-crisis levels. In the EU area, where rail fell more during the crisis, the volume is still 14 percent below the peak attained in the second quarter of 2008.

Source: International Transport Forum

The latest update of global freight data collected by the International Transport Forum at the OECD shows that since the financial crisis of 2008: the economic recovery remains uncertain, especially when considered in combination with the risks posed by geopolitical events for the global economy; road, rail and sea freight transport levels remain below pre-crisis volumes in December 2010, by 5 percent to 15 percent; air cargo has fully recovered from the crisis, but the latest data show slower growth and even declines in some markets; and road and rail freight show improvements - with the road freight trend in the EU pointing upwards, with quarterly tonne-km growth of 1 percent for Q1 through Q3 of 2010.

The overall picture for global freight is positive and freight transport volumes continue to improve, according to preliminary data. In the EU area, total external trade (in tonnes) by sea and air grew compared to the forum's previous briefing, while in the United States growth was less marked. However, the latest monthly data (December 2010) show also that for total exports and imports by sea, the recovery is still weak in the sense that the volumes are below their pre-crisis levels measured in tonnes of goods carried.

External trade by sea shows variations by region. U.S. trade by sea has stagnated since September 2010 in tonnes goods moved and fell in the last quarter of 2010, especially for Latin America compared with the previous quarter. Data for EU27 are more dynamic although trends for some segments (notably imports from China by sea) show a slowing down and even a decline, measured in tonnes of goods transported.

Recovery also remains uncertain. While air cargo has fully recovered from the crisis, external trade in tonnes of goods moved by air in the United States has now fallen for five consecutive months when measured using seasonally adjusted data. Both the EU27 and the United States' external trade by air shows slower growth or declines in nearly all markets in the last quarter 2010 compared with growth in the previous quarter.

More regional inland transport by rail and road shows improvements. Growth in road freight in the EU area has picked up in the third quarter of 2010, when measured using seasonally adjusted data on tonne kilometers performed. The positive trend in rail freight continues as well. In the United States, the rail freight volume is now only 5 percent below pre-crisis levels. In the EU area, where rail fell more during the crisis, the volume is still 14 percent below the peak attained in the second quarter of 2008.

Source: International Transport Forum