Mexico Freight Transport report Q2-2010 by Bussiness Monitor International Forecast Recovery

Business Monitor International (BMI) is an independent provider of proprietary data, analysis, ratings, rankings and forecasts covering 175 countries and 22 industry sectors. Among its numerous reports, BMI publishes vast information on Mexico and its logistics industry.

Following is the summary for BMI’s report on Mexico’s freight transportation for Q2-2010 as published by the economic research firm*: Rail shipments between Mexico and the U.S. are recovering, according to data released in December 2009 by the Association of American railroads (AAR). Mexico remains heavily reliant on the U.S. for its trade needs and, though, volumes are recovering, both imports and exports remain significantly below predownturn levels. According to AAR statistics, in the week ending December 11, rail freight movement between Mexico and the U.S. totaled 12,583 railcars – a year-on-year (y-o-y) increase of about 2%.

A greater increase was seen in the volume of containerized rail freight with 6,768 containers transported bilaterally between the two countries, equivalent to a 13.6% y-o-y growth.

The figures represent a notable recovery in rail freight activity, after an accumulated 10.8% decrease in shipments during the first 49 weeks of 2009, including a 14.4% drop in containerized rail freight volumes.

We have not changed our main macroeconomic forecasts since our last quarterly report. We estimate that GDP contracted by 7.1% in 2009, but maintain our projection for 2010 at +3.2% followed by +3.3% in 2011. These are our latest figures. Affected by the severity of last year’s slump, growth in 2005-09 averaged a low 1.0% per annum, but we see that number rising to 2.8% in 2010-2014. This means that the macro-economic environment will be more supportive for the freight industry in the five years starting in 2010. We have maintained most of our earlier changes to mode-specific freight carried-to-GDP ratios.

President Calderon is committed to a large roadbuilding programme and this has been taken into account, although the slowdown in the U.S. economy has reduced the pace of Mexican road haulage growth. Despite the recession, we believe that trade with Mexico’s northern neighbor will recover in the medium to long term and more shipments destined for the world’s largest economy will be brought in through Mexican ports such as Lazaro Cardenas.

Earlier, we trimmed back slightly our pipeline throughput estimates, given slower output growth from some key oil fields. We also trimmed airfreight projections because of the generally tougher economic climate and the swine flu threat earlier in 2009. We have also reset out shipping forecasts, linking them to Mexico’s overseas trade, which will fall sharply this year. Bearing recovery from these factors in mind, our overall forecast is now that freight carried across all modes will grow by an annual average of 3.4% throughout the 2010-2014 forecast period.

According to our latest estimates, transport and communications GDP contracted 6.9% in 2009, less severely than the 7.1% contraction in the wider economy. For the 2010-2014 forecast period we expect the transport and communications sector to outpace the economy as a whole. It will achieve average annual growth of 3.2%, versus 2.8% for overall GDP. The total value of transport and communications GDP will rise to US$174.4bn in nominal terms by 2014, representing 11.5% of Mexico’s GDP.

The transport and communications sector employed 1.91mn people, or 4.6% of the labor force, in 2009. We see that figure rising to 2.01mn by 2014, although as a proportion of the labor force it will remain constant at 4.6%.

Transport activity in Mexico grew moderately through the 1990s. Overall transport demand is driven by trade volumes and, in particular, by trade with the U.S., which accounts for 88% of exports and 63% of imports. The modal split for land transport has remained broadly stable.

This stability is of particular note given the major changes in the rail sector brought about by privatization in the mid-1990s. We forecast that road haulage freight carried will grow by an annual average of 3.2% over the forecast period. Medium-term growth in trade with the U.S. and the development of road infrastructure will be pluses, although poor infrastructure will continue to be a constraint.

Rail freight growth, at 3.9%, will lead the way in ground transportation, boosted by the development of private railways, the recovery of transit business from Mexico’s Pacific coast through to the U.S. and the growing realization that rail is one of the most cost-effective modes for bulk freight. Maritime cargo will grow by an average of 4.1%, as we predict recovery from the effects of the global shipping slump, helped by the expansion of Lazaro Cardenas port that will help combat bottlenecks.

Airfreight will expand by 3.5% a year, given that we see some oversupply persisting in the domestic market.