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Economic Watch: Trucks Moving More NAFTA Trade

January 29, 2014

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Three of the five transportation modes - truck, rail and pipeline - carried more U.S.-NAFTA trade in November 2013 than they did a year earlier, according to new figures from the U.S. Transportation Department.

The value of overall U.S. trade with its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico rose 1.3% during the month compared to the same time a year ago.

Trucks, which carry three-fifths of U.S.-NAFTA trade and is the most heavily used mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners, rose 2.5% in value year-to-year while rail rose 2.2% Vessel declined 8.4% and air declined 4%. Pipelines showed the most year-to-year growth at 7.4%

Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode, November 2013 Compared to November 2012. Credit: U.S. DOT
Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode, November 2013 Compared to November 2012. Credit: U.S. DOT

Trucks carried 59.9% of the $96.1 billion of U.S.-NAFTA trade in November 2013 accounting for $30.2 billion of exports and $27.4 billion of imports. It was followed by rail at 15.8%, vessels at 9%, pipeline at 6.6% and air at 4% The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.3% of the total NAFTA freight flows.

For trade with Canada in November, trucks carried 54.9% of the $52.8 billion of freight, followed by rail at 17%, pipelines at 11.5%, vessel at 5.5% and air at 4.7%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.4%of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows

For trade with Mexico in November, trucks carried 66.1% of the $43.3 billion of the freight, followed by rail at 14.3%, vessel at 13.3%, air at 3.1% and pipelines at 0.7%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.1% of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

In November 2013, the top commodity group transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, valued at $10.6 billion, of which $6 billion moved by pipeline. The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in November 2013 continued to be electrical machinery, of which $7.2 billion moved by truck..

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