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U.S. NAFTA Surface Trade Increased in 2013, Trucking’s Share Dips

March 20, 2014

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A new U.S. Transportation Department repot shows three of the five surface transportation modes, truck, rail and pipeline, carried more U.S. trade with North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico by value in 2013 than compared to the year before.

Trade by pipeline also grew the most from year-to-year, 7.7%, partly due to the value of petroleum products, as the overall value on all modes rose 2.6%. Smaller increases took place on rail, advancing 4.6%, and truck increasing 2.2%, while vessel trade fell for the second consecutive year, losing 2.4% and air trade declined for the third straight year, falling 1%.

Most U.S.-NAFTA trade in 2013, 82.4%, was carried on the surface modes of truck, rail and pipeline. Trucks carried 59.7%, followed by rail at 15.4%, air at 9.1%, pipeline at 7.3% and vessel at 3.8%

U.S.-NAFTA Merchandise Trade by Mode: 2010-2013. Graphic: U.S. DOT
U.S.-NAFTA Merchandise Trade by Mode: 2010-2013. Graphic: U.S. DOT

Although truck carried more than half of U.S.-NAFTA trade last year, its share of total trade has dropped by 4 percentage points from 2004, the first year of DOT data for all modes, while the decline was 0.2 percent points in 2013 compared to 2012. Vessel’s percentage share rose 2.6 points while pipeline rose 1.9 points.

Trade with Canada

Most U.S.-Canada trade in 2013, 83.6%, was carried on the surface modes of truck, rail and pipeline. Trucks carried 54.4%, followed by rail at 16.7%, pipeline at 12.6%, vessel at 5.7% and air at 4.5%.

From 2012 to 2013, total U.S.-Canada trade rose 2.6 %. Freight on two modes, vessel and pipeline grew faster than overall trade, increasing 13% and 7.7%, respectively. Rail and air each gained 2.3%, while truck grew slower, increasing just 0.7%

Although truck carried more than half of U.S.-Canada trade last year, 54.4%, its share of total trade has dropped by 6 percentage points from 2004, the first year of DOT data for all modes, while it fell 1.1 percentage points from 2012.

Truck’s share of imports declined 9.6 percentage points from 51.9% to 42.3%. Pipeline’s share of total trade rose 3.9 points while vessel rose 2.6 points.

Michigan led all states in trade with Canada in 2013 with $74.6 billion. Of the top 10 states for U.S.-Canada trade in 2013, Washington had the highest percent change over 2012, a 6.4% increase.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada in 2013 was mineral fuels, valued at $134.1 billion, with $79.2 billion or 59.1% moved by pipelines. The next highest commodity category transported by a single mode in U.S.-Canada trade was vehicles and vehicle parts (other than railway vehicles and parts) with $66.1 billion in trade moved by trucks.

Trade with Mexico

Most U.S.-Mexico trade in 2013, 80.8%, was carried on the surface modes of truck, rail and pipeline. Trucks carried 66.2%, followed by rail at 13.8%, vessel at 13.3%, air at 3% and pipeline at 0.8 %

From 2012 to 2013, total U.S.-Mexico trade rose 2.6%. Freight on three modes, pipeline at 8.5%, rail at 8.2% and truck by 3.8%, grew faster than overall trade. Vessel fell by 9.1% and air declined 6.9%.

Truck carried two-thirds of U.S.-Mexico trade last year, 66.2%. Truck’s share of total trade dropped by 2.9 percentage points from 2004, the first year of DOT data for all modes, but increased 0.8 points from 2012.

Truck’s share of exports declined 5.1 points from 71.6% to 66.6%. Vessel’s percentage share of total trade rose 1.2 points while rail rose 1.1 points. Vessel’s share of exports rose 5.2 points from 6.7% to 12%

Texas led all states in trade with Mexico in 2013 with a value of $195.6 billion. Of the top 10 states for U.S., Mexico trade in 2013, Illinois had the highest percentage change over 2012, a 22.5% increase.

The top commodity transported between the U.S. and Mexico in 2013 was electrical machinery, valued at $94.2 billion, with $85.1 billion or 90.4% moved by trucks. The next highest commodity category transported by a single mode in U.S.-Mexico trade was mineral fuels valued at $50.3 billion in trade moved by vessel.

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