EU international trade in transport services


Data extracted in March 2021

Planned article update: March 2022

Highlights

Sea transport was the biggest contributor to EU international trade in transport services between 2010 and 2019, accounting for about half of the total transport services, for both exports and imports.

The United States was the EU's main trading partner in transport services in 2019, accounting for about 17 % of EU exports and 14 % of EU imports.

[[File:EU international trade in transport services March 2021.xlsx]]

EU trade in transport services with extra EU, 2010-2019

The role of trade in services in EU international trade has been growing steadily over the last decade and plays a major role in modern economies in an increasingly interlinked and globalised world. International trade in services flows show the transactions between residents and non-residents according to twelve main service categories of the Extended Balance of Payments Services classification (EBOPS 2010). Transport services is the second largest of the twelve service categories, accounting for 18 % of total services exports to extra-EU and also 15 % of total services imports from non EU countries in 2019. The largest category is 'other business services', presented in a separate article.

This article focuses on the structure and evolution of the EU's international trade in transport services with extra-EU. The transport services category can be further divided into four sub-categories[1] , namely sea transport, air transport, other modes of transport as well as postal and courier services. These sub-categories are presented in this article.

Full article

General overview

Figure 1 shows the time series for the evolution of international trade in transport services from 2010 to 2019. Exports of transport services exceeded imports every year, resulting in a constant surplus for the EU. In the period 2010 to 2019 exports of transport services decreased only in two years - 2013 (-6.3%) and 2016 (-5.6%) - after which year, they increased by 10.3% in 2017, and continued increasing in 2018 as well as 2019. Imports fluctuated in a similar manner as exports, although in 2017, their increase was more modest as compared to exports (+5.7%).

Figure 1: EU trade in transport services with extra EU, 2010-2019 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

Figures 2 and 3 show the contributions of the four sub-categories of transport services to exports and imports for 2010 to 2019. Sea transport provides the biggest contribution to both exports and imports (sea transport accounts for approximately half of the total transport services category) followed by air transport, other modes of transport, and postal and courier services.

Figure 2: Contributions of sea, air, other modes of transport as well as postal and courier services to exports of EU with extra-EU, 2010-2019 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)


Figure 3: Contributions of sea, air, other modes of transport as well as postal and courier services to imports of EU with extra-EU, 2010-2019 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

In 2019, the United States was the EU's main trading partner in transport services exports, accounting for 16.8 % of EU exports; it was followed by the United Kingdom with 15 % and by Switzerland with 9 %. As far as imports are concerned, the United States again has the leading role with 14 %, the United Kingdom comes second with 12 % and China third with 7.5 % (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Main trading partners' share of EU exports and imports of transport services, 2019
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

Sea transport

Sea transport[2] covers all international freight and passenger transport services undertaken by seagoing vessels, except cruise fares (included in travel). It does not include transport by underwater pipelines (included in pipeline transport).

The evolution of the time series for sea transport services is shown in Figure 5. Exports of sea transport have been higher than imports since 2010, resulting in a continuous trade surplus. There was a big decrease in the exports in 2016 of 11%. However, since 2017 exports and imports have being continuously increasing. The biggest increase occurred in 2017, with 7.1% for the imports and 12.6% for the exports.

Figure 5: Evolution of sea transport services trade for EU, 2010-2019 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

In 2019, the EU's largest trade partner for sea transport services was again the United States with 15.5 % of exports and 11.8 % of imports. China and the United Kingdom came second and third respectively for exports with 7.5 % for each. For imports again the second largest partner was China with 8.4 % followed by the United Kingdom with 6.8 % (see Figure 6).

Figure 6: Main trading partners' share of EU exports and imports of sea transport services, 2019
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

Air transport

Air transport[3] covers all international freight and passenger transport services provided by aircraft.

EU exports of air transport services has consistently exceeded imports in the period 2010 to 2019, resulting in a positive balance for all years. Exports have recorded an increase for all years in this period except for 2013 when there was a decrease of 6.2%. Exports of air transport services continued to increase after 2013, particularly in 2017 with an increase of 8.6%. In the same period imports exhibited small fluctuations until 2017. In 2017 and subsequent years, imports have recorded an increase, although the increase in 2019 was marginal (+0.2 %). (see Figure 7).

Figure 7: Evolution of air transport services trade for EU, 2010-2019 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

In 2019, the United States was again the largest partner for air transport services, accounting for 23.5% of EU exports and 16.3% of imports. The United Kingdom was second with 20.4% for the exports and 14.7% for the imports. Switzerland came third with 5.4% for exports but was fourth for imports with 4.4%, after China who is in third position for imports with 6.4% (see Figure 8).

Figure 8: Main trading partners' share of EU exports and imports of air transport services, 2019
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

Other modes of transport

Other modes of transport services include all other modes of transport besides sea and air. They can be disaggregated to: space transport, rail transport, road transport, inland waterway transport, pipeline transport, electricity transmission and other supporting and auxiliary transport services (i.e. all other transport services that cannot be allocated to any of the components of transport services previously described).

The time series for trade in other modes of transport since 2010 is shown in Figure 9. Imports and exports have fluctuated but not substantially. In 2017, an increase of 7.2% in exports and 5.2% in imports was recorded. In 2018 imports increased substantially (15%) surpassing the exports. In 2019 both exports and imports increased at a moderate rate.

Figure 9: Evolution of other modes of transport services trade for EU, 2010-2019 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

Regarding the EU's main trading partners for other modes of transport in 2019, the United Kingdom is the leader in exports with 27.5%; Switzerland accounted for the second place with 23.4 % and Russia for the third with 9.5 %. In the imports the main partner was again the United Kingdom with 19.9 %; the United States were second with 11.8 % and Switzerland third with 10.1 % (see Figure 10).

Figure 10: Main trading partners' share of EU exports and imports of other modes of transport services, 2019
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

Postal and courier services

Postal and courier services[4] cover the pick-up, transport and delivery of letters, newspapers, periodicals, brochures, other printed matter, parcels, and packages, including post office courier and mailbox rental services.

Figure 11 shows the evolution of postal and courier services for 2010 to 2019. Imports of these services had being quite stable during this period, and are slightly decreasing since 2017. During the same period, EU exports of postal and courier services exhibited an increasing trend especially in the period 2013 to 2018, culminating in a steep increase of 21.7% in 2018. This was followed by a drop of 15.2 % in 2019. The balance of postal and courier services had been negative until 2015 and has been positive since 2016.

Figure 11: Evolution of postal and courier services trade for EU, 2010-2019 (EUR 1 000 million)
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

For postal and courier services the EU's main trading partner for exports in 2019 was the United Kingdom with 26.7 %, followed by China with 18.8 % and the United States with 17.2 %. Regarding imports in 2019, the main partner was United States with a share of 59 %, followed by the United Kingdom with 7.9 %, and Switzerland with 7.1% (see Figure 12).

Figure 12: Main trading partners' share of EU exports and imports of postal and courier services, 2019
Source: Eurostat (bop_its6_det)

Data sources

EU data on transport services trade come from the Eurostat reference database on international trade in services and are prepared in accordance with BPM6, the current balance of payments methodology. The data are updated annually. They are available since 2010 for EU aggregates, all EU Member States and non-EU countries (EFTA, candidate countries and other countries). Pre-2010 data are also available in the Eurostat reference database but are prepared in accordance with the previous balance of payments methodology (BPM5). Statistics on EU trade with extra-EU are calculated as the sum of trade conducted by the 27 Member States and the European Union institutions (except the European Central Bank and European Stability Mechanism) with the countries outside the EU (no flows within the EU are taken into account).

Transport[5] is the process of carriage of people and objects from one location to another as well as related supporting and auxiliary services.

Transport can be classified according to:

  • (i) mode of transport and
  • (ii) what is carried. The transport services category can be further divided into four sub-categories[6] , namely:
Sea transport
Air transport
Other modes of transport
Postal and courier services.

For instance, in the case of passenger transport, international trade in transport services covers all services provided to non-residents by resident carriers and to residents by non-resident carriers. Nevertheless, the transport of travellers (non-residents) is not included in transport. In international services trade it is classified under travel services. In the case of freight, transport services include all the international transport of the economy's exports and imports of goods. Moreover, it includes freight services provided by resident operators on the compiling economy's imports inside the customs frontier of the exporting economy (exports of freight services). Accordingly it also comprises transport services provided by non-resident operators of the compiling economy, inside the customs frontier of the compiling economy, on the compiling economy exports (imports of freight services).

Context

International trade in services makes up part of the current account of the balance of payments and covers the transactions between the residents and non-residents of a country during a given period. International trade in services follows the BPM6 methodology, which uses 12 main service categories, one of which is transport services. EU trade in services with the non EU countries has been on an increasing trend from 2010 to 2019 for both imports and exports.

Direct access to
Other articles
Tables
Database
Dedicated section
Publications
Methodology
Legislation
Visualisations
External links




Database

International trade in services, geographical breakdown (bop_its6)

Methodology