U.S.-NAFTA freight value percent change from previous year, October 2017. Graphic: U.S. DOT

U.S.-NAFTA freight value percent change from previous year, October 2017. Graphic: U.S. DOT

The value of freight moved between the U.S. and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners posted its 12th consecutive year-over-year increase in October, according to newly released Transportation Department figures.

The 7.9% increase from October 2016 put the value at $100.6 billion as all five major transportation modes carried more freight by value with NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico. The hike is the biggest since May and compares to a 3.6% drop in October 2016 versus the same month in 2015.

The value of commodities moving by vessel increased 32.6%, pipeline by 9.3%, air by 6.1%, truck by 5.7%, and rail by 3.3%. The large percentage increase in the value of goods moving by vessel was due in part to an increase in the unit value and an 18% increase in the tonnage of mineral fuels traded, according to the department.

Trucks carried 64% of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continued to be the most utilized mode for moving goods to and from both Canada and Mexico. Trucks accounted for $33.4 billion of the $54.5 billion of imports, or 61.2%, and $31 billion of the $46.1 billion of exports, or 67.3%.

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.1% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 6.6%; pipeline, 5%; and air, 3.8%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.1% of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows

U.S.-Canada Freight Flows Jump 6.8%

Comparing October 2016 to October 2017, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased by 6.8% to $49.7 billion as the value of freight on all five major modes increased from a year earlier.

The value of freight carried on vessel increased by 61.9% due in part to an increase in the unit value and a 29.8% increase in the tonnage of mineral fuels traded. Pipeline increased by 11.6%, air by 8.9%, rail by 7.2%, and truck by 1.4%.

Trucks carried 57.7% of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 16.2% followed by pipeline, 9.6%; air, 4.7%; and vessel, 4.4%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.4% of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

In October 2017, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, of which $4.7 billion, or 54%, moved by truck and $3.7 billion, or 43.1% by rail.

U.S.-Mexico Freight Increases Even More

The value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased by 9% in October from a year earlier to $50.8 billion as the value of freight on three major modes also increased from a year earlier.

The value of freight carried on vessel increased by 21.8% due in part to an increase in the unit value and an 11.7% increase in the tonnage of mineral fuels traded. The value of commodities moved by truck increased by 9.5%, largely due to a 26% increase in the value of motor vehicles moved by truck. The value of goods moved by air increased by 1.9%. Rail decreased by 0.9%, and pipeline by 17.7%.

Trucks carried 70.2% of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 14% followed by vessel, 8.8%; air, 2.9%; and pipeline, 0.6%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.7% of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in October 2017 was vehicles and parts, of which $5 billion, or 49.6%, moved by truck and $4 billion, or 40%, moved by rail.

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