Trucking and all other transportation modes except rail carried less cross-border freight by value in July compared to a year earlier, according to new U.S. Transportation Department figures.
This resulted in a 10% decrease in the total current dollar value of freight moved. The $83.7 billion in July 2016 cross-border freight is the lowest monthly amount since February 2011, which had $76.7 billion in cross-border freight.
July also marks 19th consecutive month that the total value of U.S. freight with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico declined from the same month of the previous year.
The value of commodities moving by truck fell by 8.8% as rail increased 0.9%. Also falling is air freight by 6.4%, vessel by 25.1% and pipeline by 26.9%. Truck freight imports fell by 7.3% while exports declined by a larger 10.3%.
According to the department, the increase in rail is due in part to the a 14% year-over-year increase in the value of vehicles and parts traded with Mexico. A drop in the price of crude oil also played a role in the large declines in the dollar value of products shipped by vessel and pipeline. Crude oil accounts a large share of the commodities carried by these modes. Mineral fuels, a commodity category that includes crude oil and coal, accounted for 10.1% of total value of U.S.-NAFTA trade in July.
Despite the overall decline, trucks carried 64.7% 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 $27.8 billion of the $44.6 billion of imports, or 62.4%, and $26.4 billion of the $39.1 billion of exports, or 67.4%%. Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.4% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight.
U.S.-Canada Freight Falls By Double Digits
From July 2015 to July 2016, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows fell 10.7% to $42.4 billion as all modes of transportation carried a lower value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier.
The total value of truck freight moved between the two countries fell 7.2%. The value of truck imports fell 5% and exports fell 9%.
Lower crude oil prices contributed to the decline in the value of freight moved between the U.S. and Canada. Crude oil is a large share of freight carried by pipeline and vessel, which fell 28% and 37.1%, respectively, year-over-year.
In July 2016, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada by all modes was vehicles and parts, of which $4.1 billion, or 57.2%, moved by truck and $2.9 billion, or 40.2%, moved by rail.
Trucks carried 59.7% of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 15.7% followed by pipeline, 8.8%; air, 5%; and vessel, 3.7%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.3% of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows.
U.S.-Mexico Freight Falls 9.2%
During this same period , the value of U.S.-Mexico freight declined 9.2% to $41.3 billion as all modes of transportation except rail carried a lower value of U.S.-Mexico freight than a year earlier.
The department reports the value of overall truck freight with Mexico fell 10.1% due to a 11.7% decline in the value of truck exports and 8.9% drop exports
Freight carried by rail increased 4.2%. Air decreased 8.2% and truck decreased by 10.1%. Pipeline and vessel freight value dropped by 12.3% and 18.2%, respectively, both due mainly to lower crude oil prices.
Trucks carried 69.9% of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 15.1% followed by vessel, 8.6%; air, 3.0%; and pipeline, 0.8%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.8% of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.
The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico by all modes in July 2016 was electrical machinery, of which $7.4 billion, or 91.9%, moved by truck.