NAFTA Freight Declines

All five transportation modes carried less United States freight by value with North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico in March 2016 compared to March 2015. The total value of cross-border freight carried on all modes fell 5.8 percent from 2015 to $90.5 billion in current dollars, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The value of commodities moving by truck declined 1.1 percent, the smallest decrease of any mode. The value of freight carried on other modes also declined: rail, 7.7 percent; air, 9 percent; vessel, 31.9 percent; and pipeline, 33.2 percent. 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 67.3 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 $31.4 billion of the $48 billion of imports (65.3 percent) and $29.5 billion of the $42.5 billion of exports (69.4 percent).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.5 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel at 4.5 percent, air at 4 percent and pipeline at 3.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.4 percent of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

From March 2015 to March 2016, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows fell 8.8 percent to $46.4 billion, as all modes of transportation carried a lower value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier. Trucks carried 62.1 percent of the value of the freight to and from Canada.
From March 2015 to March 2016, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight fell 2.6 percent to $44.1 billion as all modes of transportation except truck carried a lower value of U.S.-Mexico freight than a year earlier. Freight carried by truck increased 0.7 percent, primarily because of an increase in shipments of computers and parts. Trucks carried 72.7 percent of the value of freight to and from Mexico.

In March 2016, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada by all modes was vehicles and parts, of which $5.3 billion, or 55.4 percent, moved by truck and $4 billion, or 42.2 percent, moved by rail. The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico by all modes in March 2016 was electrical machinery, of which $7.7 billion, or 91.3 percent, moved by truck.