International Transport Forum reveals unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on cargo volumescsantos
Dramatic reduction in air and sea freight is observed in the United States and the EU
The Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on air and maritime trade, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data. The volume of air freight (measured in tons of goods transported), which is one of the main indicators of economic growth, decreased by 53% in the EU-27 and 3% in the United States in April 2020, compared to June 2008. Air exports, in particular, have declined dramatically as the health crisis erupted in Europe and the United States.
Covid-19’s impact on maritime transport is likely to become visible in the third quarter of 2020. In the EU, sea freight volumes have remained stable and above pre-crisis levels in 2008 since mid-2008. From 2014 to March 2020. In the United States, they have largely stopped below pre-2008 crisis levels, with 2018 being the exception. However, between April and June 2020, the volume of goods transported by sea decreased by 4% in the EU-27 and almost three times (11%) in the United States, compared to June 2008.
Exports to the BRICS countries and Asia have been the driving force for European and North American growth since the 2008 crisis. In May 2020, EU-27 sea exports to the BRICS were 79% higher than their previous peaks. 2008 crisis and Asia were 90% higher. US maritime exports to the BRICS almost doubled. In contrast, air exports from the EU-27 and the United States to Asia declined as Covid-19 spread across the world.
The International Transport Forum Statistical Report on World Trade and Transport presents the latest trends in freight transport globally based on the World Trade and Transport Database and Quarterly Transport Statistics from the International Transport Forum. These data are collected by the Secretariat through a questionnaire and from external sources such as Eurostat, the United States Census and Japanese Customs. The International Transport Forum Secretariat seasonally adjusts national data for analytical purposes.
Short-term data are usually collected to allow for timely identification of changes in any indicator and, in particular, to identify potential inflection points. However, monthly or quarterly transport statistics are often characterized by seasonal patterns. Seasonal adjustment filters out the usual seasonal fluctuations that repeat with similar intensity in the same season each year. The trend, in turn, also excludes other irregular factors (such as strikes and the impact of the climate) from a historical series. A time series from which seasonal variations have been removed basically allows for the comparison of data between two quarters where seasonal patterns are different, which also helps to identify the inflection points and the underlying direction of change.