Some sort of old normal

In Newsletter Editorial4 MinutesBy Gavin MyersJuly 8, 2022

I hate to do it, but Covid’s the topic of discussion again. After months of what might have resulted in a sunnier commentary herein, the news over the past couple of weeks has been full of rising case numbers and ‘will they, won’t they’ speculation on traffic light settings and mask mandates.

Despite this, think for a minute how much has changed in New Zealand just this year so far. We’ve mostly gone from having ‘adapted to the new normal’ back to life as it was.

Shopping malls and restaurants are busier. Corporate events are back on the agenda and calendars are filling up. Overseas travel is a possibility again. It’s bloody fantastic.

Most important of all, we’ve accepted we have to live with the virus. Yes, it’s spreading and numbers all round are fluctuating, but it seems the fact we’re all bound to get it at some stage is now a largely accepted reality. Sure, most people diligently wear their masks in public, but other than that and the news of someone in our circle falling ill with it, we don’t seem to be taking much more notice of it.

New Zealand’s just about catching up to the rest of the world and getting on with life again. About time. As the country reaches its final step of reopening the borders to international trade and visitors in the coming weeks, we’ll probably see a spike again. However, my hope is the benefits of returned foreign spending and increased trade will outweigh the inevitable drawbacks.

This effect is highlighted in a recent Key Transport Statistics report for 2021 by the International Transport Forum. As we know, transport is one of the most reliable indicators of economic health and the report showed positive signs of recovery in the global economy.

World trade volume increased by 9.8% and air freight tonne-kilometres by 18.7%. The report states that this shows the air-freight sector is overcoming the impact of Covid-19. Surface freight transport was hit less than air transport during the pandemic and preliminary estimates for rail freight in 2021 show an increase of 8.2% in the EU and 6.4% in the United States. Road freight tonne-kilometres also increased by 6.5% in the EU.

Overall global GDP increased 6.1% between 2020 and 2021, the report states.

An interesting metric is that of fuel deliveries compared to 2020, with an average 8.67% increase in petrol and 7% increase in diesel deliveries across the countries measured. Within our own borders these figures were 1.3% and 6.3% respectively.

Interestingly the report shows the total number of road deaths decreased for 26 countries in 2021, compared to the average for 2018-2020 (mitigating the lockdown-affected 2021). New Zealand was one of the 26, recording an approximate 8% decrease. We’ll leave that there as those stats are better used in an editorial on a different topic…

For now, though, let’s just hope the report of 2022’s changes reflect a greater return to normal both globally and within our own little corner of the world.

Take care out there,

Gavin Myers