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                                                                                  March

    Statistics Brief                                                             2012
    ► Global Trade and Transport



Global Freight Volumes Remain Stagnant

The latest global freight data collected by the International Transport Forum
at the OECD through December 2011 continue to indicate macroeconomic
stagnation:

     ► External trade by sea, measured in tonnes of goods moved, in the EU-
        27 and the USA remains stagnant below pre-crisis levels.
     ► External trade by air, considered as a lead indicator, indicates further
        decline. Total trade by air both in the EU-27 and the USA fall back at
        their pre-crisis levels.
     ► Asia and BRICS show resilience as USA and EU-27 exports by sea
        continue to improve. However, exports by air stagnate while imports
        decline further.
     ► Weak performance of road and rail freight in the EU-27 and the USA
        indicate weak domestic demand.

The overall picture for global freight remains weak. Total external trade by sea (in  ►   Global
tonnes) has remained stagnant below pre-crisis levels in the United States and EU-27      freight
(-3% and -5%) according to preliminary estimates of goods carried ending December         remains
2011. Freight transport by air slows down further in the last quarter, external trade     stagnant
by air in the USA and the EU-27 dipping to and below their pre-crisis levels in
December 2011 (Figure 1).

In general, demand remains weak in advanced economies. Imports by sea to the EU ►         EU-27
area have declined throughout 2011 and were 14% below their pre-crisis levels at the      imports
end of the year. Imports by air also continued their downward trend and were only         decline
5% above pre-crisis levels in December 2011, according to preliminary data.               further
Developing economies show resilience with Asia and BRICS taking the lead. EU-27
and USA exports by sea to BRICS attained new highs in December 2011 and were            ► Dependency
58% and 68% above pre-crisis levels respectively. The dependency on Asian demand          on Asia
is illustrated by data on New Zealand exports to China: Exports by sea to China were      remains high
156% above pre-crisis level in December 2011, reaching 2.5 million tonnes, while
exports by air showed similar spectacular growth. Yet, external trade between New
Zealand and the EU and USA remain below pre-crisis levels. At the same time, figures
for external trade by air illustrate the risks of dependency on Asia-led global growth.
USA exports by air to BRICS and Asia have stagnated while EU-27 exports by air have
declined since the second quarter of 2011, according to our seasonally adjusted
preliminary data (Figures 2-6).



 
 

                                                                                                     1
 

Inland transport by rail and road continue to reflect the sense of weak recovery in    ►                                         Weak
domestic demand, especially in the EU area and the United States. Road freight within                                            performance
the EU area continues to recover only slowly, with the volume still 8% below the pre-                                            in road and
crisis peak, according to our seasonally adjusted data. Rail freight in the EU and the                                           rail freight
USA declined from the previous quarter to -9% and -4% below pre-crisis levels. Rail
freight growth in Russia has eased and remains at pre-crisis peak (Figures 7-9).

     Figure 1. External trade, percentage change from pre-crisis peak Jun-08
                     (Tonnes, monthly trend, seasonally adjusted)


                                                                                     EU27 external trade by sea,
          EU27 external trade by sea, total (tonnes)
                                                                       Exports      exports and imports (tonnes)
                                                                       Imports
                                                                                                                          16%




                                                    ‐4% ‐5%

                    ‐15%                                                                                                  ‐14%

                                                                                 ‐22%
      Jul-08                                       Dec-11     Jul-08                                                   Dec-11


            USA external trade by sea, total (tonnes)                                    USA external trade by sea
                                                                       Exports          exports and imports (tonnes)
                                                                       Imports
                                                                                                                          18%




                                                    ‐5% ‐3%

                    ‐16%                                                                                                  ‐15%
                                                                                 ‐16%


       Jul-08                                      Dec-11     Jul-08                                                   Dec-11


           EU27 external trade by air, total (tonnes)                                    EU27 external trade by air
                                                                                        exports and imports (tonnes)
                                                                       Exports
                                                                       Imports
                                           15%

                                                                                                                           5%
                                                    3%
                                                         0%

                                                                                                                           1%




                  ‐20%
                                                                                 ‐22%

      Jul-08                                       Dec-11     Jul-08                                               Dec-11


                                                                                     USA external trade by air
            USA external trade by air, total (tonnes)                              exports and imports (tonnes)
                                                                       Exports
                                                                       Imports


                                                                                                                           6%
                                           3%


                                                   ‐1% ‐1%
                                                                                                                          ‐3%



                                                                                 ‐22%
                 ‐25%
      Jul-08                                       Dec-11     Jul-08                                               Dec-11




 

                                                                                                                                          2
 



                                   Figure 2. USA external trade by sea, percentage change
                                                 from pre-crisis peak Jun-08
                                           (Tonnes, monthly trend, seasonally adjusted)

                                    BRICS                                                          Asia                                                EU27
                                                       68%
             Total                                                      Total                                                     Total
             Exports                                                    Exports                                                   Exports
             Imports                                                    Imports                                                  Imports
                                                                                                                29%

                                                                                                                                                                        17%




                                                        6%
                                                                                                               ‐12%
                           ‐20%                                                                                                                                        ‐17%
                                                                                                                                             ‐22%
                                                                                    ‐30%

    Jul-08                                          Dec-11     Jul-08                                       Dec-11      Jul-08                                      Dec-11

                                    Africa                                                 Latin America                                            Middle East
             Total                                                      Total                                                    Total
             Exports                                                    Exports                                                  Exports
             Imports                                                    Imports                                                  Imports
                                                                                                               31%
                                                       24%


                                                                                                                                                                        0%



                                                                                                                                                                       ‐11%
                                                                                            ‐18%               ‐15%
                                                                            ‐20%

                                                       ‐37%
    Jul-08                                          Dec-11     Jul-08                                       Dec-11      Jul-08                                      Dec-11




                                                  Figure 3. EU27 external trade by sea,
                                             percentage change from pre-crisis peak Jun-08
                                                (Tonnes, monthly trend, seasonally adjusted)

                                     BRICS                                                          Asia                                            North America
               Total                                                      Total                                                    Total
               Exports                                   58%              Exports                                                  Exports
                                                                                                                 51%
               Imports                                                   Imports                                                   Imports


                                                                                      17%




                                                                                                                                                                         ‐17%
                                                        ‐21%                                                     ‐23%
                         ‐27%                                                                                                                                            ‐21%
                                                                                     ‐36%
      Jul-08                                         Dec-11     Jul-08                                       Dec-11       Jul-08                                     Dec-11

                                  Latin America                                               Middle East                                               Africa
               Total                                                      Total                                                    Total
               Exports                                                    Exports                                                  Exports
               Imports                                                   Imports                                                   Imports


                                                         18%                                                     20%                                                     18%




                                                        ‐10%


                                                                                                                                                                         ‐28%

      Jul-08                                         Dec-11     Jul-08                                       Dec-11       Jul-08                                     Dec-11




 

                                                                                                                                                                                3
 



                                                  Figure 4. USA external trade by air,
                                            percentage change from pre-crisis peak Jun-08
                                               (Tonnes, monthly trend, seasonally adjusted)

                                      BRICS                                                              Asia                                                            EU27
                Total                                                                  Total                                                        Total
                Exports                                                                Exports                                                      Exports
               Imports                                                                 Imports                                                      Imports

                                                                      25%                                                        23%
                                                                                                               19%


                                                                                                                                                                                               0%

                                                                      9%
                                                                                                                                 ‐9%                                                          ‐11%
                          ‐22%
                                                                                                                                                        ‐26%

      Jul-08                                                   Dec-11         Jul-08                                         Dec-11        Jul-08                                         Dec-11



                                      Africa                                                         Latin America                                                    Middle East
               Total                                                                   Total                                                        Total
               Exports                                                                 Exports                                                      Exports
               Imports                                                                 Imports                                                      Imports




                                                                      7%                                                             7%


                                                                                                                                 ‐1%
                                                                                                                                                                                              ‐6%
                                                ‐15%
                                                                                              ‐19%
                                                                                                                                               ‐24%
                         ‐36%                                     ‐35%
                                                                                                                                                                                             ‐37%
      Jul-08                                                   Dec-11         Jul-08                                         Dec-11        Jul-08                                         Dec-11




                                                 Figure 5. EU27 external trade by air,
                                            percentage change from pre-crisis peak Jun-08
                                               (Tonnes, monthly trend, seasonally adjusted)

                                    BRICS                                                               Asia                                                        North America
             Total                                                                   Total                                                         Total
             Exports                                                                 Exports                                                       Exports
             Imports                                                                 Imports                                                       Imports

                                               28%                                                              23%            25%
                                                                20%


                                                                                                                                                                                              1%

                                                                ‐1%

         ‐14%                                                                                                                                                                                ‐16%
                                                                                          ‐27%
                                                                                                                                                             ‐38%
    Jul-08                                                   Dec-11         Jul-08                                          Dec-11        Jul-08                                          Dec-11



                                 Latin America                                                       Middle East                                                        Africa
             Total                                                                   Total                                                          Total
             Exports                                   53%                           Exports                                                        Exports
             Imports                                                                 Imports                                                        Imports
                                                                 24%                                                                                                                35%
                                                                                                                      27%
                                                                                                                                                                                              18%




                                                                                       ‐10%
                                                                                                                               ‐12%
                                                                                                                               ‐16%

                         ‐38%                                                                                                                                                                 ‐33%
    Jul-08                                                   Dec-11         Jul-08                                          Dec-11         Jul-08                                          Dec-11




 

                                                                                                                                                                                                     4
 

Figure 6. New Zealand external trade with major trading partners percentage
                     change from pre-crisis peak Jun-08
                  (Tonnes, monthly trend, seasonally adjusted)

                        External trade by sea, total                                              External trade by air, total
              Total                                                                     Total
             Exports                                                                   Exports
             Imports                                                                   Imports
                                                                       28%
                              14%
                                                                                                                     6%
                                                                                                                                     2%


                                                                        ‐8%                                                          ‐8%

                       ‐27%

    Jul-08                                                         Dec-11     Jul-08                                             Dec-11


                                Australia by sea                                                              Australia by air
              Total                                                                     Total
             Exports                                                                   Exports
             Imports                                                                   Imports



                                                                        3%


                                                                                                        ‐9%                          ‐7%
                                                                       ‐15%
                                                                                                                                    ‐14%


    Jul-08                                                         Dec-11     Jul-08                                             Dec-11


                                    China by sea                                                               China by air        178%
              Total                                       163%
                                                                                        Total
             Exports                                                   156%            Exports
             Imports                                                                   Imports
                              98%


                                                                                49%                            55%



                                                                                                                                    13%
                                                                        2%
                                                                                           ‐9%
                         ‐36%
    Jul-08                                                         Dec-11     Jul-08                                             Dec-11


                                    EU27 by sea                                                                EU27 by air
              Total                                                                     Total
             Exports                                                                   Exports
             Imports                                                                   Imports

                                                                 18%




        ‐14%                                                                                                                         ‐4%
                                                   ‐26%                ‐27%                       ‐19%
                       ‐43%
    Jul-08                                                         Dec-11     Jul-08                                             Dec-11


                                    USA by sea                                                                  USA by air
              Total                                                                     Total
             Exports                                                                   Exports
             Imports                                                                   Imports


                                                                        12%




                                ‐20%                                                                                               ‐11%
                                                                       ‐23%                      ‐24%
                                                                                                                                   ‐26%
    Jul-08                                                         Dec-11     Jul-08                                             Dec-11




 

                                                                                                                                           5
 

              Figure 7. National and international road freight in the EU
                       (Million tonne-km, trend, seasonally adjusted)
                                      320



                          Thousands   280



                                      240



                                      200



                                      160
                                         Q1/00                    Q3/08       Q3/11



Note: Data on road freight in the EU area include Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France,
Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain. These cover around 65% of total
road freight in the EU.



               Figure 8. National and international rail freight in the EU
                       (Million tonne-km, trend, seasonally adjusted)
                                       110    
                      Thousands




                                       100    


                                        90    


                                        80    


                                        70    


                                        60    
                                                 Q2/01            Q2/08         Q3/11


Note: Data on rail freight in the EU area include Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,
Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia,
Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. These cover around 95% of total rail freight in the EU.

    Figure 9. National and international rail freight in the United States and
                                Russian Federation
                   (Million tonne-km, trend, seasonally adjusted)

                                      700    
                        Thousands




                                      600    
                                                         USA
                                                         Russia
                                      500    



                                      400    



                                      300    
                                             Q2/01                Q2/08         Q3/11



 

                                                                                                             6
 


    Methodological note

    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. These data are collected by the Secretariat through a
    questionnaire and from external sources, including Eurostat, US Census and Japan Customs.
    National data are seasonally adjusted by the International Transport Forum Secretariat for
    analytical purposes.

    Short-term data is normally compiled to allow timely identification of changes in any indicator
    and especially to identify possible turning points. However, monthly or quarterly transport
    statistics are often characterized by seasonal patterns. Seasonal adjustment filters out usual
    seasonal fluctuations that recur with similar intensity in the same season every year. Trend, in
    turn, excludes also other irregular factors (such as strikes and impact of weather) from a time
    series. A time series from which the seasonal variations have been eliminated basically allows for
    the comparison of data between two quarters for which seasonal patterns are different, also
    helping to identify turning points and the underlying direction of the change.

    Seasonal adjustment is carried out with the Demetra program using the TRAMO/SEATS
    adjustment method. Seasonally adjusted estimates may differ from those produced by national
    authorities due to differences in the adjustment methodology.

    For more detailed description of methodology, click here.


If you would like to receive further issues of the Statistics Brief or more information,
please contact: Mr Edouard Chong (edouard.chong@oecd.org) or Mr Jari Kauppila
(jari.kauppila@oecd.org).

For additional information on our transport statistics, go to
www.internationaltransportforum.org/statistics/shortterm/index.html.




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