Fleet Management

Cross-Border Freight Increases for 8 Straight Months

August 24, 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

The value of freight moved between the U.S. and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico increased in June for the eighth consecutive month, according to new Transportation Department figures, though the hike for trucking was less than most other modes.

U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $99.8 billion, up 7.7% from the same time a year ago, while the value of commodities moved by truck increased 4.4%. The value moved by pipeline increased 26.3%, vessel by 14.5%, rail by 9.8%, and air by 1.9%.

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 $53.2 billion of imports, or 60.6%, and $31 billion of the $46.6 billion of exports or 66.6%.

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.5% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 6.4%; pipeline, 5.3%; and air, 3.8%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.1% of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

U.S. Canada Freight Increases 6%

The value of freight moved between the U.S. and Canada increased by 6% to $51.1 billion in June, as the value of freight moved on three major modes increased from a year earlier.

The value of freight carried on pipeline increased by 30.5%, rail by 8.1%, and truck by 2.3%. Air dropped by 2.9% and vessel fell by 10.3%.

Trucks carried 58.3% of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 16.1% followed by pipeline, 9.8%; air, 4.5%; and vessel, 3.4%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.1% of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, of which $5.7 billion, or 56.1%, moved by truck and $4.1 billion, or 40.9%, moved by rail.

U.S.-Mexico Freight Jumps Even More

From June 2016 to June 2017, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased by 9.4% to $48.7 billion as the value of freight on four major modes increased from a year earlier.

The value of commodities moved by vessel increased by 27.7%, rail by 11.9%, air by 10.4%, and truck by 6.3%. The value of freight moved by pipeline dropped by 22.7%.

Trucks carried 68.8% of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 14.9%, followed by vessel, 9.5%; air, 3.0%; and pipeline, 0.5%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.1% of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in June 2017 was also vehicles and parts, of which $4.1 billion or 45.4% moved by truck and $4 billion or 43.7% moved by rail.

The report was released just after talks began by the Trump administration to revamp the more than 20-year old NAFTA pact. Trucking and logistics interests are keeping a close eye on talks particularly those involved in the automotive industry.

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