Trucks carried more U.S. freight by value with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in May 2016 compared to May 2015 but declines in all other freight modes led to a 3.1 percent decrease to $89.8 billion in the total current dollar value of cross-border freight. May was the 17th consecutive month that the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight declined from the same month of the previous year, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).
Freight by Mode
The value of commodities moving by truck increased 1.3 percent as the value of incoming freight from Mexico (up 6.2 percent) and Canada (up 11.4 percent) exceeded the 5.5 percent decrease in shipments from the U.S. Of the top 10 commodities transported between the U.S. and other NAFTA countries by truck, fruits and nuts had the highest year over year increase – 13.2 percent. The value of freight carried on other modes declined: rail 3.1 percent; air 3.8 percent; pipeline 21.4 percent; and vessel 30.7 percent. A drop in the price of crude oil played a key role in the large declines in the dollar value of products shipped by vessel and pipeline. Crude oil (a component of mineral fuels) comprises a large share of the commodities carried by these modes. Average monthly prices for crude petroleum and refined fuel are available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Trucks carried 66.0 percent 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 $31.2 billion of the $47.9 billion of imports (65.3 percent) and $28.1 billion of the $42.0 billion of exports (66.9 percent).
Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.8 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 5.4 percent; pipeline, 3.9 percent; and air, 3.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.8 percent of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.
From May 2015 to May 2016, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows fell 6.0 percent to $46.0 billion as all modes of transportation except truck carried a lower value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier.
Lower crude oil prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease 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 were down 22.3 percent and 47.3 percent respectively year-over-year.
Trucks carried 61.1 percent of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 16.6 percent followed by pipeline, 7.0 percent; air, 4.6 percent; and vessel, 3.4 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.8 percent of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows.
From May 2015 to May 2016, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight rose 0.1 percent to $43.9 billion as all modes of transportation except truck and rail carried a lower value of U.S.-Mexico freight than a year earlier. Freight carried by truck and rail both increased 2.3 percent. Air freight value declined 5.3 percent. Pipeline and vessel freight value dropped by 9.6 percent and 18.8 percent respectively, both due mainly to lower crude oil prices.
Trucks carried 71.2 percent of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 15.0 percent followed by vessel, 7.6 percent; air, 2.8 percent; and pipeline, 0.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.9 percent of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.