Aviation’s Contribution Towards Trade

by Abubakar Shoaib

Trade performance is determined by economic growth and prosperity. Over the last 40 years, countries that have grown the fastest have been those with the fastest international trade growth.

Aviation is central to international trade and economic development. Forecasts suggest that the world’s economies will become even more dependent on international trade in the future. World trade is expected to almost double, rising at more than twice the global GDP rate, with China, India, and other emerging markets leading the way.

Compared to other modes of transport, air freight is fast and reliable over great distances. However, these benefits come at a greater cost than other transport modes. Consequently, air freight is mostly used to deliver light, compact, perishable goods that have a high unit value. When you look at the value of goods, over a third of all international trade is sent by air, but when you consider the volume of trade, the amount sent by air is tiny, at less than 1%. An estimated $6.5 trillion in cargo value was sent by air in 2019.

Part of everyday manufacturing

Air transport is vital to many industries’ global supply chains, primarily for the transfer of time-sensitive goods. Rapid delivery is essential to businesses that provide streamlined production processes or rely on the urgent delivery of parts for machinery and equipment. Manufacturing facilities worldwide rely on air transport for the delivery of high-value, lightweight, and sensitive electrical components.

Air transport supporting sustainable development

Exporters of perishable goods such as food and flowers – many of whom are located in developing countries – can only reach export markets by air, providing steady employment and economic growth to developing countries that benefit from such trade. The pharmaceutical industry also relies on air transport for the delivery of time-sensitive medical supplies, particularly vaccines.

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