BMI View: We expect steady if lacklustre growth in Brazil's freight sector in the coming years, with tepid increases in mining and agricultural output ensuring demand remains elevated. We caution that a more robust expansion will be prevented by a slowdown in the consumer sector, weak global commodities and a lacklustre external picture. As a result, we expect the road and rail sector will display the largest gains.
Brazil's economy will remain in recession in 2016 after dipping below zero in 2015, for the first time in seven years. We forecast real GDP to contract by -0.8% in 2016 following a contraction of -2.7% in 2015. Major headwinds to private consumption and a fixed investment via a slow resolution of the corruption scandal at national oil company Petrobras will be the primary driver of the slowdown, with unemployment reaching 10-year highs and the country's investment attractiveness significantly deteriorated.
Despite a deteriorating economy, we expect trade will remain supportive for the freight sector, with agricultural produce and mining output remaining elevated. The PPI manufacturing index has begun to show some monthly improvement, and industrial confidence has likely bottomed out as a weaker Brazilian real will modestly boost the cost competitiveness of Brazilian production. This will be of particular benefit for road haulage and rail freight. Overall, we are forecasting trade growth of 3.83% in 2016, with imports growing by 4.5%, while exports are expected to increase by 3.2%.
Brazil's road freight sector will grow at a slow but steady clip in the next five years, supported by steady agricultural output. We highlight the threat of labour disputes as a major risk to our forecast, given their regular occurrence in recent years. We expect a minor recovery in growth in road freight volumes in 2016, with the 2015 figure of 1.703bn tonnes set to increase to 1.712bn. We caution that risk to our outlook is posed by regular labour disputes, which bring road freight to a standstill.
Brazil's rail freight network will rebound from a heavy contraction in 2015, thanks to steady but slowing output in the heavy industry sector. We anticipate growth at 73.7%, compared with a decline of 49% in 2015, which if realised would see 405.1mn tonnes transported by rail this year. The majority of railway network capacity will be used to transport mining and agricultural products, for example iron ore and soybeans, from the interior of Brazil to major seaports for export.
Air freight will continue to be the freight laggard, accounting for just 0.05% of total freight carried in 2016, due to the country's heavy industry trade focus, depressed consumer demand for high-value goods generally freighted by air and limited historical investment in the sector. Similarly, we do not expect any major changes in the coming years as a combination of the scandal-ridden private sector and stagnating economic growth has pressed the pause button on infrastructure development.
Given the size and terrain of the country and limited development in the air and rail networks, the road network has presented the main transport option. Road dominance will continue in the coming years despite subdued economic growth, as even though a drop-off in private consumption will reduce demand for freighted consumer goods, the lack of alternative options will see roads continue to be heavily utilised.
Key BMI Forecasts
Air freight tonnes to grow 1.44% in 2016 to reach 1.06mn tonnes. Over the medium term, to 2019, we predict that growth will average 2.5% a year.
Rail freight tonnes to grow by 73.7% in 2016 to reach 405.0mn tonnes. To 2020, we predict average annual growth of 2.3% (2017-2020).
Road freight tonnes will increase by 0.5% to reach 1.71mn tonnes in 2016, a marginal increase on the 1.70mn tonnes recorded in 2015. To 2020, we predict average annual growth of 2.1%.
In Q215, an eight-day strike at the Customs Office in Santiago had a major impact on cargo traffic to and from Chile, according to LATAM airlines.
Major freight operators reported losses in dollar terms in their latest quarterly (Q215 and Q315 at the time of writing), which Vale attributes to the depreciation of the BRL against the USD of 28% in Q315 vs. the appreciation of the BRL against the USD of 3% in Q215.
The Brazil 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 Brazil Freight Transport Report provides industry professionals and strategists, sector analysts, investors, trade associations and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on the Brazilian freight transport and logistics industry.
- Benchmark BMI's independent freight transport industry forecasts on Brazil 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 Brazilian freight transport sector through our reviews of latest industry trends, regulatory changes and major deals, projects and investments in Brazil.
- 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.