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North American freight by the numbers

[ July 29, 2016   //   ]

Trucks carried more US freight by value with NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico in May 2016 compared to May 2015 but declines in all other freight modes led to a 3.1% decrease to $89.8 billion in the total current dollar value of cross-border freight. May was the 17th consecutive month that the total value of US-NAFTA freight declined from the same month of the previous year, according to the TransBorder Freight Data by the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).
The value of commodities moving by truck increased 1.3% as the value of incoming freight from Mexico (up 6.2%) and Canada (up 11.4%) exceeded the 5.5% decrease in shipments from the United States.  Of the top 10 commodities transported between the US and other NAFTA countries by truck, fruits and nuts had the highest year over year increase – 13.2%.  The value of freight carried on other modes declined: rail 3.1%; air 3.8%; pipeline 21.4%; and vessel 30.7%. A drop in the price of crude oil played a key role in the large declines in the dollar value of products shipped by vessel and pipeline.
Trucks carried 66.0% of US-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 $31.2 billion of the $47.9 billion of imports (65.3%) and $28.1 billion of the $42.0 billion of exports (66.9%).
Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.8% of all US-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 5.4%; pipeline, 3.9%; and air, 3.7%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.8% of the total value of US-NAFTA freight flows.
U.S.-Canada Freight
From May 2015 to May 2016, the value of US-Canada freight flows fell 6.0% to $46.0 billion as all modes of transportation except truck carried a lower value of US-Canada freight than a year earlier. Lower crude oil prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease in the value of freight moved.
Trucks carried 61.1% of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 16.6% followed by pipeline, 7.0%; air, 4.6%; and vessel, 3.4%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.8% of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows.
U.S.-Mexico Freight
From May 2015 to May 2016, the value of US-Mexico freight rose 0.1% to $43.9 billion as all modes of transportation except truck and rail carried a lower value of US-Mexico freight than a year earlier. Freight carried by truck and rail both increased 2.3%. Air freight value declined 5.3%. Pipeline and vessel freight value dropped by 9.6% and 18.8% respectively, both due mainly to lower crude oil prices.
Trucks carried 71.2% of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 15.0% followed by vessel, 7.6%; air, 2.8%; and pipeline, 0.7%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.9% of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

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