Freight transportation reports, projects and other news from outside North America


WTO: Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘puts fragile global trade recovery at risk’

As prospects for the global economy have grown dimmer since the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February, World Trade Organization (WTO) economists have reassessed their projections for world trade over the next two years. They now expect merchandise trade volume growth of 3.0% in 2022 — down from its previous forecast of 4.7% — and 3.4% in 2023, WTO officials said on April 12. 

The most immediate economic impact of the war? A sharp rise in commodity prices, WTO officials said. Russia and Ukraine are key suppliers of essential goods — including food, energy and fertilizers — supplies of which are threatened by the war. Grain shipments through Black Sea ports have been halted, with potentially dire consequences for food security in poor countries.

“The war in Ukraine has created immense human suffering, but it has also damaged the global economy at a critical juncture,” WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said. “Its impact will be felt around the world, particularly in low-income countries, where food accounts for a large fraction of household spending.” 

The war isn't the only factor weighing on world trade. Lockdowns in China to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (see below) is again disrupting seaborne trade, which could lead to renewed shortages of manufacturing inputs and higher inflation, WTO officials said.


Navigating the COVID-19 resurgence in China

In an April 13 customer advisory, officials from shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk discussed the impact of the recent COVID-19 resurgence in China. “Local authorities have implemented significant disinfection and quarantine measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” they said. “While working within the bounds of the strict precautionary and control measures being taken, our Asia Pacific offices remain fully operational.” Denmark-based Maersk officials have noted “an increased yard density for hazardous goods and reefer containers in Shanghai terminals” and recommended that customers “ship or divert their cargo to other Chinese destinations or other markets to avoid the congested port when possible.”


5.7 billion euros: MSC Group acquires Bollore Africa Logistics

On March 31, the Bollore Group inked an agreement relating to the sale to the MSC Group of 100% of Bollore Africa Logistics, comprising all of the Bollore Group's transport and logistics activities in Africa, for 5.7 billion euros. The sale, which is subject to regulatory and competition approvals and “the agreement of certain of Bollore Africa Logistics' counterparties,” is expected to be completed by the end of the first-quarter 2023, Bollore officials said.


Hapag-Lloyd to launch service between western Mediterranean, Central and South Americas

In early May, ocean carrier Hapag-Lloyd will begin a new service — the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Central America, West Coast South America Express — company officials said on April 12. The weekly service will enable Hapag-Lloyd to connect the western Mediterranean directly with South America’s west coast. With six vessels, the service will offer “fast transportation for reefer cargo” to and from Ecuador, Peru, Chile and other destinations in the Caribbean and Central America, connecting them with the main markets around the Mediterranean, and transportation will be possible “as far as Turkey, Africa and the Middle East,” Hapag-Lloyd officials said.


UIC Refugee Task Force: an update

Last month, the International Union of Railways (UIC) set up a Refugee Task Force as its first action relating to the war in Ukraine. Since holding its first online meeting on March 10, the task force it has exchanged relevant information on a regular basis to support UIC member companies, partner associations and organizations to address “challenges arising from the humanitarian crisis,” UIC officials said on April 14. Ninety-two representatives from 29 countries (from Estonia to Portugal) and 44 companies are currently exchanging information, UIC officials said.

“Taking into consideration that human trafficking is an increasing issue worldwide and traffickers have been seen at stations attempting to lure Ukrainian refugees, a UIC survey was circulated through the security platform to share practices to raise the awareness of refugees on this threat in stations and trains,” UIC officials said, adding that they’re also working on a guidance on measures to be taken for refugee crises, which will be released shortly reporting on all task force activities.

Meanwhile, representatives from Ukrainian Railways (UZ) “regularly provide an overview of what UZ is doing to help refugees get to a safer place, for example running passenger trains to help transport people and providing humanitarian aid in cargo wagons” UIC officials said. On April 8, Kramatorsk station was attacked and 52 civilians killed. “In memory of the victims, UZ ensured that seat number 52 was left vacant on trains across the country and were marked with a commemorative note and flowers,” UIC said.

UZ has a dedicated website for humanitarian aid (, which list items that are most urgently needed, and a phone number to call to provide aid for both passenger and freight transport and the volume of aid received to date.


Coming to the UK this fall — ‘Rail Freight: Fit for the Future’

A documentary series titled “Rail Freight: Fit for the Future” will be coming to a screen near UK freight transportation stakeholders this fall. Produced by Zinc Media Group and released in partnership with the Freight Industry Times, the documentary is being shot throughout the UK and will take viewers “on a cinematic journey, exploring who and what is driving change,” say officials of the Rail Freight Group (RFG), which represents UK rail freight operators, logistics companies, ports, equipment suppliers, property developers and support services, as well as retailers, construction companies and other customers.

“The content will be feature feats of engineering; inspiring stories of how rail freight is working with the wider industry; and showcase cutting-edge technology that’s providing faster, greener, and safer ways of transporting goods around the country,” RFG officials said on April 5.

The series will be launched in conjunction with the RFG Annual Conference in October; it’s part of a national marketing campaign aimed at RFG members, policymakers, the wider modal sectors and the general public, officials. Here’s the doc’s trailer: