Last reviewed 19 June 2020

Mobility restrictions to contain Covid-19 could reduce global freight transport by up to 36% by the end of 2020, according to modelling by the International Transport Forum (ITF).

For an initial assessment of potential impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on global freight transport, the ITF has integrated the restriction measures in place around the world into its in-house models of global transport activity used for the ITF Transport Outlook 2019.

While it found that the current mobility and activity restrictions around the world are likely to result in a strong reduction of global freight transport volumes in 2020, regional differences are significant.

A reduction of more than half is projected for ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Russia/Central Asia and India. For China, the impact is just above a quarter less freight.

Europe and the Americas are in the middle of the range with reductions of around 40%; only the Andean countries are projected to be hit harder, with a 50% fall in non-urban freight activity.

However, ITF has calculated that freight transport within cities can expect to be hit significantly less hard than national and international goods transport as increased online shopping means more deliveries.

For urban freight, a national lockdown could result in an increase of 20% to 40% for parcel transport, measured in tonne-kilometres. Non-parcel urban freight, on the other hand, could decline by up to 50%.

“Estimating the impact of these restrictions is difficult as events continue to unfold,” ITF said. “At the same time, scenarios based on credible assumptions are crucial to shaping effective policy in response to the coronavirus challenge.”