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U.S.-NAFTA Truck Trade Posts April Increase

June 26, 2014

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Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by mode, April 2013 - April 2014. Credit: U.S. DOT
Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by mode, April 2013 - April 2014. Credit: U.S. DOT
Two of five transportation modes, pipeline and trucks, carried more U.S.-North American Free Trade Agreement trade in April 2014 than in April 2013, as the value rose to $100.1 billion, according new U.S. Transportation Department figures.

The increases came in two modes that combined carry more than two-thirds of total U.S.-NAFTA trade. Trucks, at 60.3%, and pipeline, at 8.6%, carried a total of 69% of the trade with trucks accounting for $30.6 billion of exports and $29.8 billion of imports. 

There was a 4.2% increase in imports by truck, offset by a 2.5% decline in exports from year-to-year. Imports from Canada and Mexico both increased while exports by truck on each of the borders decreased.

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The April 2014 trade total was a 1.2% increase from April 2013. U.S.-NAFTA trade has increased from the same month of the previous year in nine of the last 10 months, interrupted by a 0.2% decrease in January. The January decline reflected the severe weather in the northern states and along the U.S.-Canada border, according to DOT.

In April, commodities moving by pipeline grew the most of any mode, 27.8%. Truck freight increased 0.7%, rail declined 1.8%, followed by declines in air at 3.1% and vessel at 13.2%. The increase in the value of freight carried by pipelines reflects both a rise in the volume and prices for oil and other petroleum products, the primary commodity transported by pipelines, said DOT.

Trade with Canada

Year-to-year, the value of U.S.-Canada trade by pipeline increased the most of any mode, growing 28.8%.  Trade using trucks rose by 0.4% while air freight declined 7.7%. U.S.-Canada trade by rail declined 6.5%, with an 11.3% fall in imports, due in part to a decrease in trade of vehicles and parts, according to DOT.

Trucks carried 54.4% of the $55.8 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail at 15.8% pipeline at 14.8%, vessel at 4.9% and air at 4.2$. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.9% of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows

Trade with Mexico 

Year-to-year, the value of trade by pipeline increased the most of any mode, growing 10.8%, but pipeline trade remained less than 1% of total U.S.-Mexico trade and the smallest of the modes based on value. Trade with Mexico by truck rose 1.1% and rail freight rose 6.1%. Air freight also rose 6.1% while freight moved by vessel declined 11.2%.  

Trucks carried 67.8% of the $44.4 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail at 13.4%, vessel at 11.7%, air at 3% and pipeline at 0.9%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.1% of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows

In April, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, of which $8.2 billion, or 64.2% moved by pipeline. The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in was electrical machinery, of which $7.3 billion, or 91.7%, moved by trucks.

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