Road freight volumes in SA grew 3.1% on a three-month average (June-August) compared to last year. Picture: SUPPLIED
Road freight volumes in SA grew 3.1% on a three-month average (June-August) compared to last year. Picture: SUPPLIED

August data from the Ctrack Logistics Barometer indicates pronounced deceleration in global logistics growth particularly in sea and air freight volumes.

While the growth slowdown was already evident in July’s Ctrack Logistics Barometer, the pace of the slowdown is now more apparent.

Despite this, total freight volumes in SA are up 1.1% on a year ago on a three-month (June, July, August) moving average basis. Road freight volumes showed the strongest positive trend rising 3.1%, while sea freight volumes showed the biggest decline of -3.5%.

The global trade war is starting to have an impact on South African trade and the volume of shipped containers is a clear indication of a slowing world economy.

Break bulk volumes at South African ports have declined 35.3% from a year ago on a three-month (June, July, August) moving average basis — the biggest year-on-year decline recorded since 2008. SA container volumes declined 6.2% during the same period. 

Land transport though is still growing due to internal demand, while bulk coal and iron ore exports show positive growth. However, even here the short-term trend is slower than before, with the Ctrack Logistics Barometer suggesting far more mundane economic performance in the third quarter of 2019.

The pipeline sector, which is dominated by fuel transportation, indicates a small decline of -0.4% on a year ago but a much larger -5.1% decline compared to July. The price of fuel has not increased much but users have either delayed buying more in the hope of lower prices, or due to uncertainty in the short-term economic outlook.

The drought in the wheat growing regions of the southern Cape will impact road freight, says Ctrack, a vehicle tracking and telematics provider. More wheat may have to be imported, making for longer journeys for transporters. This may already be a reason for the positive growth seen in road freight.

Ctrack recently joined forces with economists.co.za to create the Ctrack Logistics Barometer as an economic indicator and performance gauge of the South African logistics and supply chain industries.

The monthly barometer intends to provide an accurate indicator of the state of the South African economy, particularly in terms of the goods economy. It should assist logistics and supply chain players to better understand the factors that impact logistics volumes.

The Ctrack Logistics Barometer can be viewed online at www.ctrack.co.za