- USA and EU exports increased strongly and imports declined markedly, reflecting weak domestic demand and stronger performance of emerging economies
- Road and rail freight data continued to point out weak domestic demand especially in the EU area
The overall picture for global freight shows no major improvement since the previous ITF brief, with total external trade by sea (in tonnes) continuing to stagnate below pre-crisis levels in the United States by -8% and the 27 member states of the European Union (EU27) by -3%.
Exports and imports transported by sea show increasingly diverging trends, with total exports remaining above pre-crisis levels (EU27 28% and the US 19%) while imports declined further (EU27 -15%; US -24%). This indicates a rebalancing of trade and transport flows, mainly driven by weak performance of the advanced economies.
In comparison, exports to the BRICS countries, (Brazil, Russia, India, China and more recently South Africa) have been the driving force of European and North American growth since the crisis of 2008, specifically to China and India. However, sea trade has shown signs of slowing down, with external trade by sea from India to EU27 and the US declining during the last two quarters
Freight transported by road and rail in the EU stagnated at -13% and -8% below pre-crisis peak respectively, reflecting continuous weak domestic demand. Rail freight volumes in the US and the Russian Federation reached pre-crisis peaks earlier, but show signs of slowing down; a situation also seen in China after a period of strong growth.