Fleet Management

Trucks Continue Moving Majority of U.S.-NAFTA Trade

February 26, 2015

By Evan Lockridge

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Percent change in value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by mode; December 2013 - 2014. Graphic: U.S. DOT
Percent change in value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by mode; December 2013 - 2014. Graphic: U.S. DOT

The value of freight moved between the U.S. and its North America neighbors increased for the 11th consecutive month in December while the total level for 2014 was better than the year before.

It totaled $95.8 billion in December 2014, an increase of 5.4% from a year earlier, as four out of five transportation modes carried more freight, according to a new U.S. Department of Transportation report.

Increases were seen in truck, rail, air, and pipeline shipments, while the value of trade by vessel fell between the three North American Free Trade agreement partners of the U.S. Canada and Mexico.

For all of 2014 the value of freight between the three increased 4.5% from 2013, compared to a gain of 2.7% in 2013 from 2012.

In December 2014 compared a year earlier, the value of commodities moving by truck grew by the largest percentage of any mode, 9.3%. Rail freight increased by 8.3%, air rose by 6.3%, and pipeline grew by 4%. Vessel freight decreased by 22.6% due to lower mineral fuel prices.

Trucks carried 59.2% of U.S.-NAFTA freight and were the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $28.4 billion of the $52.5 billion of imports, 54%, and $28.4 billion of the $43.3 billion of exports, or 65.6%.

U.S.-Canada Freight

U.S.-Canada freight totaled $53.1 billion in December 2014 as three out of five transportation modes – rail, truck, and pipeline – carried more U.S.-Canada freight than in December 2013. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows by all modes increased by 4.7%.

The value of U.S.-Canada trade by rail increased the most of any mode, growing by 8.1%. Truck freight increased by 5.2% and pipeline rose by 2.6%.

Trucks carried 52.6% of the $53.1 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail at 16%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.2% of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, of which 60.7 %, moved by pipeline.

U.S.-Mexico Freight

U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $42.8 billion in December 2014 as four out of five transportation modes – pipeline, air, truck and rail – carried more U.S.-Mexico freight than in December 2013. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows by all modes increased by 6.3%.

The value of U.S.-Mexico pipeline freight rose 34.5%, the largest percentage increase of any mode. Freight moved by air increased 22.3%, truck rose by 13.7% and rail rose by 8.5%.

Trucks carried 67.5% of the $42.8 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail at 14%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.5% of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico was electrical machinery, of which 90.8% moved by trucks.

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