An increase in the price of crude oil is largely responsible for another jump in the value of freight moved between the U.S. and its two North American Free Trade Agreement partners, according to new U.S. Transportation Department figures.
U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $100.6 billion in November as all five major transportation modes carried more freight by value with partners Canada and Mexico in November 2017 compared to the same time a year earlier.
The 10.5% rise is the 13th consecutive month in which the year-over-year value in current dollars of U.S.-NAFTA freight increased.
The value of commodities moving by vessel increased 46%, air by 11.4%, pipeline by 11%, truck by 8.1%, and rail by 4.4%. The large percentage increase in the value of goods moving by vessel was due in part to a 24% year-over-year crude oil price increase and a 24.6% increase in the tonnage of mineral fuels traded, according to the DOT.
Trucks carried 63.1% of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continued to be the most utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $32.8 billion of the $53.8 billion of imports, or 61.1%, and $30.6 billion of the $46.8 billion of exports, or 65.4%.
The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, of which $5.5 billion, or 57.5%, moved by truck and $3.8 billion, or 39.6% by rail.
Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 14.5% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 7.8%; pipeline, 5.4%; and air, 3.9%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.9% of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.
U.S.-Canada Freight Value Increases 11.2%
Comparing November 2016 to November 2017, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased by 11.2% to $51.3 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 59.7% due in part to an increase in the unit value and an 22.4% increase in the tonnage of mineral fuels traded. Air increased by 12.5%, pipeline by 11.8%, rail by 10%, and truck by 8.5%.
Trucks carried 57.5% of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 15.9% followed by pipeline, 9.9%; vessel, 4.9%; and air, 4.8%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.2% of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows.
U.S.-Mexico Freight Jumps Nearly 10%
The value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased 9.7% during the same time frame, totaling $49.3 billion dollars in value.
The value of commodities moved by vessel increased by 40.4%, air by 9.6%, truck by 7.8%, and pipeline by 0.9%. Rail decreased by 1.9%.
Trucks carried 68.9% of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 13.1% followed by vessel, 10.9%; air, 3%; and pipeline, 0.7%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.6% of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.
The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in November 2017 was electrical machinery, of which $8.6 billion, or 91.4%, moved by truck and $475 million, or 5%, moved by air.