Air cargo grew by 1.4 percent in 2013 from a year earlier, figures released Wednesday by the International Air Transport Association showed.

The cargo market grew slowly in the first half of the year and picked up speed in the latter half of 2013. Capacity outpaced demand at 2.6 percent growth.

“2013 was a tough year for cargo,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in a statement Wednesday. “While we saw some improvement in demand from the second half of the year, we can still expect that 2014 will be a challenging year.”

Demand for cargo space grew the most at Middle Eastern and Latin American carriers, at 12.8 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. Solid growth in Gulf economies as well as improving economic conditions in Europe have benefitted the region’s cargo market. Latin America’s growth was slower than its pace in 2012, reflecting slow economic growth in Brazil, but it picked up at the end of the year.

Asia-Pacific carriers, which have about 40 percent of the global air freight market, saw demand decline by 1 percent over the year. African airlines also saw freight volumes decline by 1 percent over the year.

European airlines reported cargo growth of 1.8 percent for 2013 and 2.9 percent in December, the end of the best fiscal quarter for two and a half years. The market in Germany, in particular, is improving.

“World trade continues to expand more rapidly than demand for air cargo,” Tyler said. “Trade itself is suffering from increasing protectionist measures by governments.”