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The latest global freight data collected by the International Transport Forum at the OECD, through June 2011, highlight concerns over economic recovery. Among the findings:
• Freight volumes indicate a marked macroeconomic slowdown. External trade by sea in the EU-27countries and the United States stabilizes below pre-crisis levels (-3% and -4%) while trade by air declines in the EU (falling from 15% to 9% above pre-crisis);
• The risks of dependence on Asia-led global growth are exposed. Both U.S. and EU-27 exports by sea to Asia have declined since February 2011, measured in tonnes of goods moved. Trade by air with China declined both for the U.S. and the EU-27, possibly indicating a slowdown in demand from the world's engine of recovery.
• Further slow growth in inland freight transport volumes continues to contribute to the sense of weak recovery in domestic demand. The overall picture for global freight is one of growth slowing down. Total external trade by sea (in tonnes) declined through the second quarter in the United States, while in the EU trade stagnated (USA -4% compared to pre-crisis levels; EU-27 -3%), according to preliminary estimates of tonnes of goods carried. The air cargo recovery, noted in our previous brief, 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 EU-27 and the United States has so far been led mainly by exports to Asia. However, the positive trend observed in our previous brief has reversed and tonnes exported by sea from the Unites States and the EU-27 to Asia declined in Q2. Trade with China and ASEAN countries in particular shows evidence of an economic slowdown. Both sea and air exports from the U.S. to China declined between February 2011 and June 2011. EU-27 exports to China grew in Q2 but have been fairly flat for the first half of 2011 as a whole.
Total trade with ASEAN countries by air and sea decline for both regions. Only trade with India seems to have resisted 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-kilometers. 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.
Source: International Transport Forum
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