Fleet Management

Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Rises for 7th Straight Month

July 31, 2017

By Evan Lockridge

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U.S.-NAFTA freight value percent change from previous year over the last 24 months. Graphic: U.S. DOT
U.S.-NAFTA freight value percent change from previous year over the last 24 months. Graphic: U.S. DOT

A rise in the value of cross-border trucking freight between the U.S. and the other two North American Free Trade Agreement partner counties helped push total value of commodities higher for the seventh straight month in May, according to a new Transportation Department report.

U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $98.2 billion for the month as all five major transportation modes carried more freight by value compared to a year ago, resulting in a 9.4% increase.

The value of commodities moving by pipeline increased 60.3%, vessel by 28.4%, air by 8.7%, rail by 7%, and truck by 5%.

The increase in the value of freight by pipeline and vessel more closely reflected a greater volume of mineral fuels moved rather than an increase in the price of those commodities, according to the department. In contrast with recent months, there was only a modest year-over-year increase during May in the price of mineral fuels, totaling 3.8%.

Percent change in value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by mode, May 2016-2017. Graphic: U.S. DOT
Percent change in value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by mode, May 2016-2017. Graphic: U.S. DOT

Trucks carried 63.4% 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 $32.2 billion of the $53.5 billion of imports, or 60.2%. and $30.1 billion of the $44.7 billion of exports, or 67.3%. Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.5% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight.

U.S.-Canada Freight Flows Increase By Double Digits

From May 2016 to May 2017, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased by 11.4% to $51.2 billion as the value of freight on all five major modes increased from a year earlier.

The value of freight carried on pipeline increased by 66%, vessel by 26%, rail by 9.8%, air by 9.7%, and truck by 5.4%.

Trucks carried 57.8% of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 16.4% followed by pipeline, 10.5%; air, 4.5%; and vessel, 3.8%.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, of which $5.5 billion, or 55.8%, moved by truck and $4.1 billion, or 41.2%, moved by rail.

U.S.-Mexico Freight Jumps More Than 7 Percent

The value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased by 7.2% to $47 billion in May versus a year earlier as the value of freight on four major modes increased.

The value of commodities moved by vessel increased by 29.5%, air by 7%, truck by 4.8%, and rail by 3.8%. The value of commodities moved by pipeline decreased by 4.1% due to a decrease in volume of mineral fuels moved.

Trucks carried 69.6% of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 14.5% followed by vessel, 9.2%; air, 2.8%; and pipeline, 0.6

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in May 2017 wa also vehicles and parts, of which $4.1 billion or 46.6% moved by truck and $3.7 billion or 42.3% moved by rail.

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