Global trade stagnated below pre-economic crisis levels through August, according to the International Transport Forum’s December Global Trade and Transport Statistics Brief
, released Friday.
The briefing indicated total ocean trade remained lower than pre-crisis levels in the European Union and United States (at -2 percent and -10 percent, respectively), according to the ITF’s seasonally adjusted preliminary estimates of goods carried through August 2012.
“Exports and imports by sea display different patterns,” the report said. “Total exports remain above pre-crisis levels (United States - 8 percent, and European Union - 23 percent) although exports to Asia show signs of slowing down. Total imports have stagnated below pre-crisis levels.”
Meanwhile, air freight tonnage, considered a leading indicator, showed further decline since the previous quarter. The United States' total external trade by air fell to below pre-crisis levels, with exports at 4 percent above and imports at 5 percent below the pre-crisis peak. EU exports fell to 6 percent below the pre-crisis peak, while imports fell below the pre-crisis level for the first time since the recovery in the first quarter of 2010.
“This reflects the on-going economic hardship faced by many European economies and overall weakening conditions globally,” ITF said. “However, considering values instead of freight tons transported produces a more mitigated picture.”
ITF said China continues to show “resilience” with external trade by value, rising 38 percent above the pre-crisis peak for ocean and 34 percent higher by air. The growth, however, has leveled off over this past year, with the bulk of the recovery in both modes showing “spectacular recovery” through August 2011. - Eric Johnson