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U.S.-NAFTA Freight Jumps 8.2% from Year Earlier

November 25, 2014

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Percent change in value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by mode:  
September 2013 - September 2014
Graphic: U.S. DOT
Percent change in value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by mode:  September 2013 - September 2014Graphic: U.S. DOT

The amount freight moved between the U.S. and its neighbors of Canada and Mexico totaled $102.2 billion in September, an 8.2% gain from a year ago, as all five major transportation carried more cargo, according to new U.S. Transportation Department figures.

September was the seventh consecutive month with U.S.-NAFTA freight flows exceeding $100 billion with year-to-date the level 4.9% higher than during the same time in 2013.

The value of commodities moving by pipeline grew by the largest percentage of any mode, 21%. Truck freight increased 8.6% followed by vessel at 5.4%, air at 2.2% and rail at 0.6%.

Of the $7.8 billion increase in the value of US-NAFTA freight from September 2013, truck freight contributed the most, $4.9 billion, followed by pipeline, $1.4 billion.

Trucks carry three-fifths of U.S.-NAFTA freight and are the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $31.2 billion of exports and $30.1 billion of imports. Rail remained the second largest mode, moving 15% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel at 8.4%, pipeline at 7.9%, and air at 3.7%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.9% of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

U.S.-Canada Freight

Year-over-year, the percent change in the value of U.S.-Canada freight moved by pipeline increased the most of any mode, growing 19.2%. Freight moved by truck increased 6% and rail by 3.3%, while air and vessel were essentially unchanged.

Trucks carried 54% of the $57.4 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail at 16.1%, pipeline at 13.3%, vessel at 5.3% and air at 4.3%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.4% of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

U.S.-Mexico Freight

Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Mexico pipeline freight rose 60.5%, the largest percentage increase of any mode, due to an increase in U.S. exports of mineral fuels. Freight moved by truck increased 11.5%, vessel by 8.5% and air by 5.3%. The 3.3% decline in rail freight was principally due to a decline in vehicles and parts trade.

Trucks carried 67.6% of the $44.9 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail at 13.5%, vessel at 12.4%, air at 3% and pipeline at 1%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.2% of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

Commodities

In September 2014, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, of which $7.6 billion, or 61.6%, moved by pipeline. The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in September 2014 was electrical machinery, of which $7.8 billion, or 91.5%, moved by trucks.

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