PARIS, France—Despite talk of economic recovery, freight volumes around the world are still below levels reached before the economic crisis.
Data collected by the International Transport Forum, a part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), indicate air freight is still particularly depressed. In its October Statistical Brief, ITF reports total external trade by air (in tonnes) for both US and EU-27 fell back to pre-crisis levels in October 2011 and has hovered at minus one percent since then.
In contrast, rail freight volumes, at least in some areas, are up. Russia and the US have both seen their rail freight numbers increase to levels higher than before the 2008 financial crisis. Europe, however reported a decline in rail freight, as well as in road freight volumes.
Sea trade is also lower than pre-crisis volumes. Since the last quarter, sea trade by the 27 European Union nations remains one percent below its peak figure, and in the US it’s down six percent from its highest levels in 2008.
Asia is continuing to drive the global economy. Air exports to Asia by the US and EU countries are rising slightly and exports by sea from both regions to Asia reached a new high for both EU and US (61 percent and 25 percent above June 2008). Imports to both regions from Asia, however, were below their pre-crisis levels. The growth in exports outweighed the weak import situation, resulting in an overall trade increase between the two regions. Today, EU and US total trade volumes have surpassed those recorded before the financial crisis.