Among the sectoral indicators that can be taken to measure the evolution of economic activity, few are as faithful as those related to logistics, whose action is transversal: all items, from industry to commerce, need those who mobilize the merchandise.
A survey carried out by the Business Chamber of the Autotransporte de Cargas de Córdoba (Cedac) clearly shows the impact that the economy is suffering due to the quarantine of the coronavirus.
“On average, out of every 100 trucks, only 26 are in operation,” summarized Rolando Pérez, Cedac’s manager. The calculation does not include the transportation of grains, which is at its peak, due to the soybean and corn harvest.
The survey carried out by the entity in the last days of March indicates that the impact is uneven according to the items: transportation is exempt from mandatory isolation, but many of the activities that require this service are not.
According to Cedac, for example, there are sectors with no activity, such as the provision of cement and concrete, aggregates and iron and steel material, although they could be reactivated shortly because the Government included construction corrals in the list of exceptions. .
In any case, the movement in other areas that have permission to work, such as food, is not as high either.
Except for the collection of milk from the dairy farms, which operates at 80 percent; and the transfer of food, at 60 percent, in the rest of the items there are more trucks stopped than circulating: water and soft drinks work at 40 percent; and standing animals and fuels, at 35 percent.
One of the largest companies in the sector in Córdoba, with a fleet of more than 200 units, told La Voz that they are occupying 60 percent, thanks to the fact that some clients are large food and retail.
“But I have colleagues, for example those who work with construction, who are below 50 percent and more too,” said the owner of the company, who asked for a reservation.
In parallel, although they cannot compensate for the drop in activity, opportunities also appear due to the growth of the e-commerce. One of the largest home delivery companies increased the services it provides to a hypermarket. The same thing happened with the distribution of products purchased through the Mercado Libre platform.
According to Pérez, the problem is that this new critical situation adds to the recession that they were already suffering.
“January and February, in general, are not strong months, and March was already weak and we only worked 20 days. Our companies generally borrow to be able to invest. If this continues, many will not be able to continue. And it is not an exaggeration, if they do not have flow, they are not going to have another one ”, he lamented.
A report prepared by the Forum of Economic Analysis of Freight Motor Transport puts some numbers to this problem.
Before the pandemic, measured in diesel consumption, sector activity was already 35 percent below the maximum level recorded in 2011.
At the same time, companies continue with rates that do not cover their costs. A theoretical calculation by the Forum indicates that a general cargo firm with 20 trucks and that makes the Córdoba-Buenos Aires route, even using 100 percent of its capacity (12,000 kilometers per unit), loses almost 400,000 pesos per month. Working at 50 percent, it would have a red of almost 2.5 million pesos; without activity, more than six million.
The cost rise: Another stick on the wheel
The rates are not enough to cover operating expenses.
344.1% It was the increase in freight transportation costs between December 2015 and last March, above the accumulated inflation in that period (less than 290 percent), according to a report by Economic Trends.
The original text of this article was published on 04/08/2020 in our printed edition.