- DHL's Global Trade Barometer (GTB) for September 2019 shows a one point decline on the index and forecasts further loss in momentum for the next three months based on an analysis of ocean and air freight markets in China, Germany, Japan, India, South Korea and the United States. The report cautions continued decline, or at best zero growth, ahead.
- The one point decline is a modest improvement from the GTB's last finding in June, which saw a decline of eight points, however the global index value sits at 47 points, indicating overall negative growth. 50 points represents neither expansion nor contraction, and a value above 50 would indicate positive growth.
- The decline in September's GTB is, "solely triggered by decreasing air trade," according to a press release. China was impacted the most, with its air trade index dropping by eight points, though air trade in the U.S. and South Korea is expected to decline as well. Globally, the ocean freight portion of the index has remained unchanged.
Globally, the GTB has been on the decline since early 2017. Of the countries included in the index, China, South Korea and the U.S. currently have the lowest country-level index-value at 45 points.
Source: DHL Global Trade Barometer. 50 points is stable, greater than 50 shows expansion and less than 50 indicates contraction.
Air freight has struggled in particular since 2018, with year-over-year (YoY) volumes continuing to decline throughout 2019. IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement, "Global trade continues to suffer as trade tensions — particularly between the US and China — deepen. As a result, air cargo markets continue to contract."
While not covered in DHL's trade barometer, rail and trucking have also experienced declining freight volumes as a result of global trade disruption, factors some analysts predict are signs of an impending economic recession.
In trucking, after continued months of decline, the authors of the Cass Freight Index for August 2019 reported, "With the -3.0% drop in August, following the -5.9% drop in July, -5.3% drop in June, and the -6.0% drop in May," they believe an economic contraction is coming.