BMI View: Over the course of 2016 we expect to see road freight once more outperform the other two modes in Australia with the former coming in at 3.10% y-o-y growth, and rail freight and air freight are forecast to grow by 2.77% and 0.70% respectively. The slight y-o-y gains across all of the modes compared to 2015 are in line with our view that the overall trade picture is set to improve over the next 12 months with real trade growth pencilled in to increase by 3.00% in 2016. Through to the end of our forecast period in 2019, we expect growth to be steady, if uninspiring. We expect the Australian dollar to continue to face fundamental downside pressure, and this will allow the decline in imports needed to improve the country's external indebtedness over the coming years.
The Australian economy continued to slow in Q1 2015, and we maintain our 2015 real GDP growth estimate of 2.3% (versus 2.7% in 2014). The country's worsening terms of trade and unwinding investment boom continue to act as major headwinds to growth going into 2016, thus tempering the rate of growth of the freight modes in Australia over the short term. That said, the lack of an explicit easing bias by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and potential risks to the property market caused by low interest rates suggest to us that further cuts by the central bank are unlikely, and we expect the RBA to keep its cash rate steady at 2.00% over the course of 2015 and 2016.
Meanwhile, the ongoing terms of trade shock that Australia is facing is rendering the rebalancing of trade in volume terms ineffective in monetary terms. While shipments for the country's largest exports, iron ore and coal, are at new all-time highs in volume terms, revenues are stagnating, and this is unlikely to be offset by a boost in LNG export earnings over the coming years.
Road freight is once more set to remain the most dominant freight mode in Australia for the foreseeable future, accounting for almost 70% of total freight transport handled in 2016. Over the course of 2016, road freight is set to see a y-o-y increase of 3.10%, while over our forecast period (2017-2019), the sector is set to see average annual growth of 3.05% to reach 2.76bn tonnes. This healthy growth is predicated on the government's commitment to improve road infrastructure and the confirmation of further funding for projects. Rail freight, meanwhile, sits safely in second place in the freight mix, but average annual gains are forecast to be 0.98% to reach 1.13bn tonnes between 2017 and 2019 as a reduction in coal output will diminish demand for rail freight. Air freight is a minimal player in the mix in Australia, with agribusiness export growth set to be undermined by rising competition coming from lower-cost producers to supply attractive markets in Asia and the Middle East.
Australia-based logistics company Asciano Limited plans to invest AUD100mn (USD72.87mn) in building an intermodal freight terminal at St Marys, Sydney, reported the Sydney Morning Herald in October 2015. The company has set a target of building the second freight hub that transports containers by rail to Port Botany in Sydney, within a year. The terminal could help to shift up to one-fourth of Asciano's container throughput at the port from the roads of Sydney on to rail. The proposed freight terminal will help move freight efficiently to south and western Sydney, reduce road congestion and minimise double container handling, according to Asciano CEO John Mullen (SBS).
Externally, the ongoing slowdown in China is another major factor that will keep prices of key commodity exports such as iron ore and coal depressed, suggesting that export earnings are likely to decline further, despite an increase in shipments (particularly for iron ore).
A strike by Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff, beginning at the airports in Cairns, Perth and Darwin, caused delays and disruptions to air traffic across the country, reported ABC Online in September, underlining the disruptive and negative impact of strikes in the country. The strike, linked to demands for a salary-hike and improved working conditions, started on September 16 and will continue until September 18. Staff will stop working for four hours in the early mornings and evenings on those days.
The Australian government unveiled a 10-year delivery plan for the country's AUD10bn (USD7bn) Inland Rail project, which features a 1,700km freight line from Brisbane to Melbourne. The project involves 400km of track upgrades and construction of 600km of rail lines. The line has been designed to initially run 1,800m long double-stack container trains and to later run 3,600m long trains. The entire project will be built over 10 years. The plan is part of Australia's 2016 federal budget, according to Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss (International Railway Journal).
Key BMI Forecasts
We forecast total road freight volumes will rise by 3.10% y-o-y over 2016 to reach 2.42bn tonnes, up on 2015's y-o-y growth of 3.08%.
We forecast total rail freight volumes will rise by 2.77% y-o-y over 2016 to reach 1.11bn tonnes, following 2015's y-o-y contraction of 0.91%.
We forecast total air freight volumes will rise by 0.70% y-o-y over 2016 to reach 780,000 tonnes, up from 0.48% y-o-y growth in 2015.
We forecast total trade real value to rise by 3.00% to reach USD430.64bn in 2016.
The top trade partners will be China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and the US.
The Australia Freight Transport Report has been researched at source, and features latest-available data covering commercial transport and logistics by road, rail, air and water; industry forecasts, company rankings covering leading national and multinational operators; and analysis of latest industry trends, opportunities, projects and regulatory changes.
BMI Research's Australia Freight Transport Report provides industry professionals and strategists, sector analysts, investors, trade associations and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on the Australian freight transport and logistics industry.
- Benchmark BMI's independent freight transport industry forecasts on Australia to test other views - a key input for successful budgetary and planning in the strategic freight transport market.
- Target business opportunities and risks in the Australian freight transport sector through our reviews of latest industry trends, regulatory changes and major deals, projects and investments in Australia.
- Assess the activities, strategy and market position of your competitors, partners and clients via our Company Profiles (inc. SWOTs, KPIs, and latest activity).
BMI Industry View
Summary of BMI’s key industry forecasts, views and trend analysis covering freight transport and logistics, regulatory changes, major investments and projects and significant national and multinational company developments.
Industry SWOT Analysis
Analysis of the major strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the freight transport sector and within the broader political, economic and business environment.
BMI Industry Forecasts
Historic data series (2008-2012) and forecasts to end-2019 for all key industry and economic indicators (see list below), supported by explicit assumptions plus analysis of key downside risks to the main forecast including:
- Transport Sector: Total freight carried by road, rail, inland waterways, maritime, air and pipeline (mn tonnes-km/mn tonnes).
- Trade: Exports and imports (USDmn) by category of goods (manufactured goods, food, chemicals etc.); top five import and export trade partners (USDmn); imports/exports to each global region (USDmn)
- Port Data: Throughput (‘000 tonnes) for all major ports in the state.
- Oil Products Prices: Price forecasts for gasoline and aviation fuel (USD/bbl) at all major global energy trading hubs.
- Economic Indicators: Nominal GDP (USDbn); real GDP growth (%); GDP per capita (USD); industrial production (%); unemployment (%)
Details of the freight infrastructure in each state by segment (road, rail, air, water and pipelines). Full analysis of the competitive landscape within each segment.
Industry Trends and Developments
Analysis of the latest projects across the freight transport sector (road, rail, air, sea and logistics) including a market overview which provides an outline of the key elements driving development.
The Freight Transport market reports contain a chapter detailing the political outlook of a given region, examining the domestic politics, long-term outlook and foreign policy, and assessing the impact this could have on freight and transport businesses.
Examines the short- to medium-term business strategies of key industry players. Strategy is examined within the context of BMI’s industry forecasts, our macroeconomic views and our understanding of the wider competitive landscape to generate company SWOT analyses.
The latest financial and operating statistics and key company developments are also incorporated within the company profiles, enabling a full evaluation of recent company performance and future growth prospects.
The Freight Transport reports draw on an extensive network of primary sources, such as multilateral organisations, government departments, industry associations, chambers and company reports
*Company profiles are not available for every country. Those reports instead contain information on the current activities of prominent companies operating in the market.