ATA CONVENTION: 2009 'ugliest' year for trucking sector

Leading economist warns trucking industry to brace for 'ugliest' year since the Great Depression, but says there are positives

A leading economist has told the trucking industry to brace for the ‘ugliest’ year since the Great Depression, but says there are still upsides to a declining economy.

Access Economics’ Chris Richardson says news that the global financial crisis will have a greater impact on larger nations is of little comfort when Australia is itself in recession.

According to Richardson, trucking operators reliant on international trade will suffer the most due to the expected downturn in international markets.

"Some Australian firms are being particularly hard hit – especially those most exposed to the downswing in international trade," Richardson told delegates at the Australian Trucking Convention today.

"This year will have the ugliest economic news the world has faced since the Great Depression. And its little consolation that Australia will have a smaller recession while most other rich nations large one."

However, Richardson says the recession means fuel prices are likely to remain lower "for some years to come", helping to reduce operating costs. He says the Federal Government’s stimulus payments and road infrastructure investment will also help businesses.

Despite industry concerns over the impact the recession is having on trucking operators, Richardson expects the sector will be one of the first to benefit once the economy begins to recover.

He says the industry "has always mirrored developments in the Australian economy", which is no different now.

"That means bad news ahead, but it also means that – on average – the transport sector will move in line with Australia’s economy, rather than suffering more sharply," Richardson says.

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