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BTS Statistics Release: October 2016 North American Freight Numbers

Three transportation modes – air, vessel and truck – carried less U.S. freight by value with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in October 2016 compared to October 2015 as total freight on all modes decreased 3.6 percent to $93.2 billion in current dollars, according to the annual TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

The total value of cross-border freight has declined from the same month of the previous year in 21 of the past 22 months beginning in January 2015 with only an increase of 0.7 percent in August 2016.

Freight by Mode

The value of commodities moving by truck decreased 6.1 percent; vessel by 7.0 percent and air by 12.7 percent while the value of freight carried on pipeline and rail increased 21.8 percent and 6.2 percent respectively.

Trucks carried 65.3 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continued to be the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $31.9 billion of the $50.3 billion of imports (63.4 percent) and $29.0 billion of the $42.9 billion of exports (67.6 percent).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.8 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 5.4 percent; pipeline, 5.0 percent; and air, 3.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.0 percent of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

U.S.-Canada Freight

From October 2015 to October 2016, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows fell 2.5 percent to $46.5 billion due to decreases in the value of goods moved by vessel (down 31.1 percent), air (down 8.8 percent) and truck (down 3.1 percent). The value of freight carried on pipeline and rail increased 21.7 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. During this 12-month period, much of the mineral fuel freight between Texas and Canada shifted from vessel to pipeline as the value of mineral fuel shipments carried by vessel between Texas and Canada decreased while the value of pipeline shipments rose. Texas-Canada mineral fuel trade made up about 25.5 percent of all U.S.-Canada mineral fuel shipments in October 2016.

Trucks carried 60.8 percent of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 16.1 percent followed by pipeline, 9.2 percent; air, 4.6 percent; and vessel, 2.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.0 percent of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

U.S.-Mexico Freight

From October 2015 to October 2016, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows fell 4.7 percent to $46.6 billion due to decreases in the value of goods moved by air (down 18.0 percent) and truck (down 8.5 percent). The value of freight carried on three modes increased: pipeline, by 23.6 percent; rail by 10.4 percent; and vessel by 6.9 percent.

Trucks carried 69.9 percent of the value of the freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 15.4 percent of the value of freight to and from Mexico followed by vessel, 7.9 percent; air, 3.1 percent; and pipeline, 0.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.0 percent of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

See BTS Transborder Statistics Release for summary tables and additional data. See North American Transborder Freight Data on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004.    

Updated: Thursday, January 5, 2017
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