International trade grew at the same pace as previous year

Jan. 7, 2019

International merchandise trade rose by +9.5% in 2018. Despite the trade dispute between the two largest economies and a slowdown in momentum over the course of the year, this growth is only slightly below the 2017 rate (+9.7%).


-1.3% Month-over-Month (MoM)

The gKNi World Trade Indicator powered by LogIndex AG, the data company of Kuehne + Nagel, stood at 138.6 at the end of December 2018, up +4.0% from 2017 and down -1.3% compared to November 2018. Latin America (+9.5%) and North America (+4.9%) were the best performers in December 2018, followed by Asia and Europe. According to the near real-time shipper analytics based on customs data, the imports to the United States rose in December 2018, particularly for computers, vehicles, electronic products and capital goods in general - except for products for the semiconductor industry.


A solid year overall

Despite new tariffs, 2018 was a solid year: Measured in nominal USD terms, the World Trade Indicator increased by 9.5%, almost at the same pace as 2017 (+9.7%), and remarkably higher than 2016 (-3.3%) or 2015 (-9.3%). The jump in 2018 was caused by volume growth (around 4%) as well as higher prices and US dollar change.


Sea freight up +2.9%

In ocean freight, measured by the live throughput of ports, the unit volume increased in December (+0.8% MoM), after a decline in November (-1.2%). Overall, sea freight rose by +2.9% last year. The cargo and container throughput in U.S. ports increased by +4.0% in 2018. The Chinese ports recorded a growth rate of +2.8%.