In the first half of 2021, the economy has recovered significantly. Shipping and air freight prices remain above pre-crisis levels.
In May, the OECD revised upwards its 2021 growth forecasts, predicting 6.9% growth for the United States, 4.3% for the Euro zone and 8.5% for China. It expects the global economy to grow 5.8%, which is to say 1.6 percentage points more than it forecast in December 2020.
This economic recovery benefits world trade. Over the whole year, UNCTAD expects world trade to increase 16% in relation to the low point it reached in 2020 (19% for goods and 8% for services).
High freight rates
The container shipping sector moved into a phase of extreme tension in the second quarter of 2021. The general situation on the market is characterised by shipping service under capacity, a shortage of empty containers and longer transit times. Taking account of these operational difficulties, freight rates have soared from one record to another since May.
In air transport, cargo activity activity has exceeded its pre-crisis level in recent months. As regards rates, we have seen prices fall since the end of the second quarter after the spectacular increases registered in 2020 after the first spring lockdowns and during the end-of-year peak seasons. Overall, however, air freight rates are still well above their pre-crisis levels.
Parameters to monitor
In the second half, growth could be threatened by the disruption in supply chains, raw material shortages, international inflationist tensions and the threat posed on the international health front by possible new variants.