The overall picture for global freight remains uncertain. Total external trade by sea (in tonnes) remains below pre-crisis levels (June 2008) in the EU-27 and the United States (-2% and -7%). Also external trade by air, considered as a lead indicator, has stagnated below pre-crisis peak in both regions (-5% and -3%).
In general, demand remains weak in developed economies. Imports by sea to USA have declined throughout 2013 and were 27% below their pre-crisis levels at the end of the year. Imports by sea to EU remain at 10% below pre-crisis levels. Imports by air remain at June 2008 levels in both regions.
Asia, especially China, remains the locomotive for growth. Exports to Asia by sea increased both in the EU-27 and the USA and were 53% and 30% above their precrisis levels respectively. EU-27 and the USA exports by sea to China, measured in tonnes of goods moved, were 83% and 142% above the July 2008 levels respectively.
Data for Brazil shows diverging trends between air and sea freight. Total external trade by sea, measured in tonnes, increased to 23% above pre-crisis levels. Imports continued to increase, driven partly by major infrastructure construction projects for the World Cup and Olympics. However, external trade by air has been declining since
2011 reaching 7% below the July 2008 levels in December 2013.
Freight transported by road and rail in the EU stagnate at -14% and -8% below precrisis peak respectively, reflecting continuous weak domestic demand. Rail freight volumes in the Russian Federation recovered earlier but show signs of slowing down, while rail freight in China maintains its growth momentum.