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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

December 2017 North American Freight Numbers

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Figure 1. U.S.-NAFTA Freight Value Percent Change from Previous Year, December 2017

Figure 1. U.S.-NAFTA Freight Value Percent Change from Previous Year (Last 24 months)
12/2015 -9.5
01/2016 -7.7
02/2016 -2.0
03/2016 -5.8
04/2016 -3.2
05/2016 -3.1
06/2016 -6.4
07/2016 -10.0
08/2016 0.7
09/2016 -2.3
10/2016 -3.6
11/2016 3.3
12/2016 0.4
01/2017 6.7
02/2017 2.9
03/2017 10.9
04/2017 0.8
05/2017 9.4
06/2017 7.7
07/2017 6.5
08/2017 4.6
09/2017 3.6
10/2017 7.9
11/2017 10.5
12/2017 7.4
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder

The value of U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $93.5 billion as all five major transportation modes carried more freight by value with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in December 2017 compared to December 2016, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 2, Table 1).

The 7.4 percent rise from December 2016 is the 14th consecutive month in which the year-over-year value in current dollars of U.S.-NAFTA freight increased from the same month of the previous year (Figure 1).

Freight by Mode

The value of commodities moving by vessel increased 37.8 percent, pipeline by 14.2 percent, truck by 5.4 percent, air by 4.1 percent, and rail by 2.8 percent (Figure 2, Table 2). The large percentage increase in the value of goods moving by vessel is due in part to a 11.4 percent year-over-year crude oil price increase, and a 22.2 percent increase in the tonnage of mineral fuels transported by vessel.

Trucks carried 60.7 percent 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 $29.0 billion of the $50.5 billion of imports (57.4 percent) and $27.8 billion of the $43.0 billion of exports (64.6 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 14.5 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 8.4 percent; pipeline, 6.5 percent; and air, 4.1 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.7 percent of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows (Table 2).

U.S.-Canada Freight

Comparing December 2016 to December 2017, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased by 9.5 percent to $48.7 billion as the value of freight on all five major modes increased from a year earlier. The value of freight carried by vessel increased by 61.1 percent due in part to an increase in the unit value and an 42.8 percent increase in the tonnage of mineral fuels traded. Pipeline increased by 15.3 percent, rail by 10.1 percent, air by 7.2 percent, and truck by 6.4 percent (Figure 3, Table 3).

Trucks carried 55.1 percent of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 15.3 percent followed by pipeline, 11.6 percent; vessel, 5.3 percent; and air, 4.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.0 percent of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows (Table 3).

U.S.-Mexico Freight

Comparing December 2016 to December 2017, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased by 5.2 percent to $44.8 billion as the value of freight on three major modes increased from a year earlier. The value of commodities moved by vessel increased by 28.7 percent, truck by 4.5 percent, and pipeline by 0.7 percent. Rail decreased by 4.9 percent and air by 0.8 percent (Figure 4, Table 4). Rail declined largely because the value of vehicles and parts it carried in December 2017 dropped 9.8 percent from December 2016. Total vehicles and parts freight with Mexico grew however, contributing to increases in truck, vessel and air in December 2017 over the previous year.

Trucks carried 66.8 percent of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 13.7 percent followed by vessel, 11.7 percent; air, 3.2 percent; and pipeline, 0.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.4 percent of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities

In December 2017, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, of which $5.6 billion, or 61.7 percent, moved by pipeline and $2.1 billion, or 23.0 percent by vessel (Figure 5). The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in December 2017 was vehicles and parts, of which $3.7 billion, or 45.0 percent, moved by truck, and $3.4 billion, or 41.4 percent, moved by rail. (Figure 6).

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, December 2017

Mode Commodities Exports Imports Total
All Modes Mineral Fuels 2.0 7.1 9.1
Truck Vehicles and Parts 2.5 2.4 4.9
Rail Vehicles and Parts 1.2 2.0 3.2
Pipeline Mineral Fuels 0.8 4.8 5.6
Vessel Mineral Fuels 0.9 1.2 2.1
Air Electrical Machinery 0.3 0.2 0.5
Notes:

Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder

Figure 6. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, December 2017

Mode Commodities Exports Imports Total
All Modes Vehicles and Parts 1.6 6.8 8.3
Truck Electrical Machinery 2.8 4.2 7.1
Rail Vehicles and Parts 0.4 3.0 3.4
Pipeline Mineral Fuels 0.4 0.0 0.4
Vessel Mineral Fuels 2.1 1.0 3.1
Air Electrical Machinery 0.3 0.2 0.5
Notes:

Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder

Reporting Notes

BTS press releases and the BTS website define surface transportation modes as truck, rail and pipeline. See North American TransBorder Freight Data on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004. The category of all modes of transportation cited in the following tables includes freight movements by truck, rail, vessel, pipeline, air, other and unknown modes of transport.          

Data in this press release are not seasonally adjusted and are not adjusted for inflation. For previous statistical releases and summary tables, see TransBorder Releases. See TransBorder Freight Data for data from previous months, and for additional state, port, and commodity data. BTS has scheduled the release of annual TransBorder numbers for March 8.

Table 1. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows, December 2017

Month 2015 2016 2017 Percent Change 2015-2016 Percent Change 2016-2017
January 89,258 82,430 87,960 -7.7 6.7
February 85,723 84,038 86,474 -2.0 2.9
March 96,070 90,462 100,289 -5.8 10.9
April 93,327 90,380 91,068 -3.2 0.8
May 92,707 89,840 98,246 -3.1 9.4
June 99,030 92,671 99,764 -6.4 7.7
July 92,995 83,725 89,175 -10.0 6.5
August 92,442 93,126 97,439 0.7 4.6
September 93,246 91,126 94,379 -2.3 3.6
October 96,624 93,165 100,561 -3.6 7.9
November 88,154 91,089 100,613 3.3 10.5
December 86,748 87,086 93,512 0.4 7.4
Annual 1,106,325 1,069,138 1,139,481 -3.4 6.6
Notes:

Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.  Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder

Table 2. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation, December 2017

Mode December 2016 December 2017 Percent Change December 2016-2017
All Modes Imports 46,814 50,544 8.0
Exports 40,271 42,968 6.7
Total 87,086 93,512 7.4
All Surface Modes Imports 40,605 43,013 5.9
Exports 31,778 33,413 5.1
Total 72,383 76,426 5.6
Truck Imports 27,432 29,028 5.8
Exports 26,431 27,758 5.0
Total 53,863 56,786 5.4
Rail Imports 8,970 9,178 2.3
Exports 4,264 4,427 3.8
Total 13,235 13,604 2.8
Pipeline Imports 4,203 4,807 14.4
Exports 1,083 1,229 13.5
Total 5,286 6,036 14.2
Vessel Imports 2,838 3,792 33.6
Exports 2,838 4,029 42.0
Total 5,675 7,821 37.8
Air Imports 1,535 1,694 10.3
Exports 2,159 2,150 -0.4
Total 3,694 3,844 4.1
Notes:

Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.   Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.  The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation.  For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder

Table 3. Value of Monthly U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation, December 2017

Mode December 2016 December 2017 Percent Change December 2016-2017
All Modes Imports 23,311 25,453 9.2
Exports 21,161 23,250 9.9
Total 44,471 48,702 9.5
All Surface Modes Imports 20,226 21,700 7.3
Exports 16,649 18,234 9.5
Total 36,875 39,934 8.3
Truck Imports 11,243 11,700 4.1
Exports 13,972 15,139 8.4
Total 25,215 26,840 6.4
Rail Imports 4,795 5,204 8.5
Exports 1,977 2,254 14.0
Total 6,772 7,458 10.1
Pipeline Imports 4,187 4,796 14.5
Exports 701 840 19.9
Total 4,888 5,636 15.3
Vessel Imports 1,116 1,543 38.4
Exports 480 1,027 113.9
Total 1,596 2,570 61.1
Air Imports 909 981 8.0
Exports 1,330 1,419 6.7
Total 2,239 2,401 7.2
Notes:

Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.   Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.  The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation.  For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder

Table 4. Value of Monthly U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation, December 2017

Mode December 2016 December 2017 Percent Change December 2016-2017
All Modes Imports 23,504 25,091 6.8
Exports 19,110 19,718 3.2
Total 42,614 44,810 5.2
All Surface Modes Imports 20,379 21,313 4.6
Exports 15,129 15,179 0.3
Total 35,508 36,493 2.8
Truck Imports 16,189 17,328 7.0
Exports 12,459 12,618 1.3
Total 28,648 29,946 4.5
Rail Imports 4,175 3,974 -4.8
Exports 2,288 2,172 -5.0
Total 6,463 6,146 -4.9
Pipeline Imports 15 12 -24.8
Exports 382 389 1.7
Total 397 400 0.7
Vessel Imports 1,722 2,249 30.6
Exports 2,357 3,002 27.4
Total 4,079 5,251 28.7
Air Imports 627 713 13.7
Exports 829 731 -11.8
Total 1,455 1,443 -0.8
Notes:

 Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.   Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.  The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation.  For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder