IATA - Moderate Growth for Air Cargo in 2013 Full Year Performance Statistics Released
IATA released figures showing a 1.4% expansion of global freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) in 2013 when compared to 2012. Cargo markets made very slow progress during the first half of the year. Acceleration in the trend took root in the latter half of 2013, placing air freight volumes on a steadily increasing trajectory. Capacity grew faster than demand at 2.6% and load factors were weak at 45.3%. Regional performance varied. Middle Eastern and Latin American carriers reported the strongest growth in demand (12.8% and 2.4% respectively). Asia-Pacific carriers, which have nearly 40% of the global air freight market, saw cargo activities shrink by 1.0% over the year.
In December global FTKs grew 1.8% compared to a year ago. This continues the positive trend in the latter half of 2013, though it was down from the November figure of 6.0%. Capacity grew by 3.6%, taking load factor down 0.8 percentage points on a year ago, to 46.3%.
Asia-Pacific carriers saw freight volumes fall 0.3% in December, and declined 1.0% for 2013 as a whole, compared to 2012. The economic performance of the region was patchy, as was growth in trade volumes, although these have picked up in recent weeks. Despite shrinking demand, capacity grew by 0.8% in 2013.
European airlines reported cargo growth of 2.9% in December and 1.8% for the whole of 2013, the best volume performance of the traditional 'big three' aviation regions. Manufacturing indicators suggest that the fourth quarter of 2013 was the strongest quarter for two-and-a-half years, and the outlook, particularly in Germany, is improving.
North American carriers' air freight volumes contracted 0.5% in December and fell by 0.4% for the whole of 2013, compared to 2012. Indicators of business activity in North America have shown some improvement in recent months, but remain below the levels seen at the start of 2013.
Middle Eastern carriers continued their strong growth, expanding FTKs by 13.0% in December and by 12.8% for 2013 as a whole. The Middle East has benefitted from improving economic conditions in Europe as well as solid growth in domestic Gulf economies. Middle Eastern carriers have also captured a significant share of the increase in the volumes out of Africa.
Latin American airlines' freight volumes fell 5.0% in December, but for 2013 as a whole, increased by 2.4%. This is a slower pace of growth than in 2012, largely reflecting sluggish growth in Brazil. However, there have been signs of a steady pick-up since the third quarter of the year.
African airlines saw their freight volumes rise 1.7% in December and grow 1.0% for 2013 overall. African volumes, after a strong start to 2013, suffered from a mid-year lull, which has continued into the second half of the year, with weakness in major economies like South Africa as well as a slowdown in regional trade dampening demand.
 
CN Conductors' Strike Averted After Company and Teamsters Reach New Tentative Labour Agreement
CN announced today (Wednesday) that it has reached a new tentative collective agreement with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference - Conductors, Trainpersons and Yardpersons (TCRC-CTY). The parties' negotiation of a new tentative agreement averts a threatened strike by the union at 0001 hours Eastern Standard Time Feb. 8, 2014. The TCRC-CTY represents approximately 3,000 CN train conductors, trainpersons, yardpersons and traffic coordinators on CN's network in Canada. Details of the three-year labour contract are being withheld pending ratification.
Jim Vena, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said: "We commend the leadership of the TCRC-CTY for reaching consensus with the company and averting a possible strike. This will ensure continued service to our customers in a very challenging environment where extreme winter conditions have hampered CN operations and affected service levels. "CN has offered to work closely with the union leadership to explain the terms of the agreement to union members over the next 45 days to help ensure a successful ratification of the agreement."
 
China Seen Targeting Transshipment Cargo
Supply chain operators claim intra-Asia cargo shipped to China via South Korean ports is being hit with unnecessary delays and tariffs that could be part of a Chinese strategy to reduce reliance on foreign transshipment ports. According to liner sources, China-bound cargo from South East Asia transshipped in South Korean ports such as Busan is sometimes treated as Korean cargo by China Customs, rather than processed under the tariff arrangements of the 2010 China-ASEAN free trade agreement, which provides imports from ASEAN nations with favorable terms.
One shipping line executive said that it was not unusual for cargo originating in the ASEAN bloc to be subjected to additional charges, with customers forced to submit non-manipulation certificates to China's customs agency or pay higher tariffs on imported goods. One logistics executive said the move could be part of China's aim of reducing reliance on non-Chinese transshipment ports such as Busan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Chinese port executives are certainly now pursuing transshipment traffic with more aggression. Hong Kong has lost cargo in recent years as competition from southern Chinese ports has increased, while shippers report that Qingdao increased stevedoring rates by 5 percent on January 1 for trade between China and Japan transshipped outside China.
China also relaxed cabotage regulations at Shanghai last year as a by-product of the establishment of the new China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone concept. This means foreign-registered vessels are now officially able to carry containers between Shanghai and other Chinese ports, although the vessels must still be Chinese-owned.
 
Canadian International Merchandise Trade, December 2013
Canada's merchandise imports grew 1.2% and exports increased 0.9% in December. Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with the world widened from $1.5 billion in November to $1.7 billion in December. Imports grew to $41.4 billion, as prices rose 1.6% while volumes declined 0.4%. Higher imports of energy products led the overall increase.
Exports rose to $39.7 billion, as volumes grew 0.8% and prices edged up 0.1%. Increased exports in most sections were slightly offset by declines in energy products; farm, fishing and intermediate food products; and motor vehicles and parts. Exports to the United States rose 1.2% to $30.0 billion, while imports from the United States declined 0.4% to $27.1 billion. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States widened from $2.4 billion in November to $2.9 billion in December.
Imports from countries other than the United States rose 4.3% to $14.2 billion. A large increase in imports from the principal trading area "other Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development countries" (+38.7%) was partially offset by a decline in imports from the European Union (-12.3%). Crude oil and crude bitumen was the main factor behind both of these opposing movements. Exports to countries other than the United States were unchanged at $9.7 billion in December. Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $4.0 billion in November to $4.5 billion in December.