Fleet Management

U.S. Cross-Border Freight Declines More Than 8%

January 29, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Percent change in value of U.S.-Canada/Mexico freight
flows by mode: November 2014 - 2015. Graphic: U.S. DOT
Percent change in value of U.S.-Canada/Mexico freightflows by mode: November 2014 - 2015. Graphic: U.S. DOT

The value of trans-border freight movements between the U.S. and its neighbors took a steep decline, according to new U.S. Transportation Department numbers, while Canada regained its historical rank as top North America trade partner after falling behind Mexico.

The value of freight moved between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico freight totaled $88.2 billion in November 2015, down 8.4% from a year earlier, as all modes of transportation carried a lower total value of freight.

Large decreases in the value of commodities moved by pipeline and vessel in November were due to the reduced prices for crude oil, according to the department. Also, increases in the value of the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies, including the Mexican peso hitting a historic low against the greenback recently and the Canadian dollar also falling in value, has contributed to year-over-year declines each month through 2015’s reported numbers.

In November 2015 compared to November 2014, the value of commodities moving by truck decreased by 0.4%, while the value of air freight decreased by 7.3% and rail by 9.8%. Decreases of more than 40% each were reported for vessel and pipeline freight.

Trucks carried 66.2% of U.S.-Canada/Mexico freight and continue to be the most heavily used mode for moving goods to and from U.S.

Trucks accounted for $30 billion of the $46.8 billion of imports, or 64.1%, and $28.3 billion of the $41.3 billion of exports, or 68.5% Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.1% of all U.S. trans-border freight.

The value of U.S.-Canada freight totaled $45.1 billion in November 2015, down 13.8% from a year earlier as all modes of transportation also carried a lower value.

Lower crude oil prices contributed to the year-over-year decrease, according to the department. Crude oil is a large share of freight carried by vessel and pipeline, which were down 46.1 percent and 43.5 percent, respectively, year-over-year.

Trucks carried 60.4% of the freight to and from Canada, followed by rail at 16.3%.

In November 2015, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada by all modes was vehicles and parts, of which $5.4 billion, or 59%, moved by truck.

The value of U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $43 billion in November 2015, down 1.9% from November 2014, as two out of the five transportation modes, air and truck, carried more  freight value than in November 2014.

Freight carried by truck increased by 4.9%, led by shipments of electrical machinery, which were up 10.5%. Air freight value rose 2.7% while rail freight value declined 4.3%.

Trucks carried 72.3% of the the value of freight transported to and from the U.S. and Mexico, followed by rail at 13.8%.

The top commodity category for all modes transported between the U.S. and Mexico in November 2015 was electrical machinery, of which $8.3 billion, or 92.3%, moved by truck

 

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