North American Transborder Freight Data

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December 2017 North American Freight Numbers

Release Number: 
BTS 11-18
(Last 24 months)
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
08/20160.7
09/2016-2.3
10/2016-3.6
11/20163.3
12/20160.4
01/20176.7
02/20172.9
03/201710.9
04/20170.8
05/20179.4
06/20177.7
07/20176.5
08/20174.6
09/20173.6
10/20177.9
11/201710.5
12/20177.4
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
ModePercent Change
Truck5.4
Rail2.8
Pipeline14.2
Vessel37.8
Air4.1
All Modes7.4
Source: 

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

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
ModePercent Change
Truck6.4
Rail10.1
Pipeline15.3
Vessel61.1
Air7.2
All Modes9.5
Source: 

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

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
ModePercent Change
Truck4.5
Rail-4.9
Pipeline0.7
Vessel28.7
Air-0.8
All Modes5.2
Source: 

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

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).

(billions of current dollars)
ModeCommoditiesExportsImportsTotal
All ModesMineral Fuels2.07.19.1
TruckVehicles and Parts2.52.44.9
RailVehicles and Parts1.22.03.2
PipelineMineral Fuels0.84.85.6
VesselMineral Fuels0.91.22.1
AirElectrical Machinery0.30.20.5
Notes: 

Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

Source: 

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

(billions of current dollars)
ModeCommoditiesExportsImportsTotal
All ModesVehicles and Parts1.66.88.3
TruckElectrical Machinery2.84.27.1
RailVehicles and Parts0.43.03.4
PipelineMineral Fuels0.40.00.4
VesselMineral Fuels2.11.03.1
AirElectrical Machinery0.30.20.5
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.

(millions of current dollars)
Month201520162017 Percent Change 2015-2016 Percent Change 2016-2017
January89,25882,43087,960-7.76.7
February85,72384,03886,474-2.02.9
March96,07090,462100,289-5.810.9
April93,32790,38091,068-3.20.8
May92,70789,84098,246-3.19.4
June99,03092,67199,764-6.47.7
July92,99583,72589,175-10.06.5
August92,44293,12697,4390.74.6
September93,24691,12694,379-2.33.6
October96,62493,165100,561-3.67.9
November88,15491,089100,6133.310.5
December86,74887,08693,5120.47.4
Annual1,106,3251,069,1381,139,481-3.46.6
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

(millions of current dollars)
Mode December 2016 December 2017 Percent Change December 2016-2017
All ModesImports46,81450,5448.0
Exports40,27142,9686.7
Total87,08693,5127.4
All Surface ModesImports40,60543,0135.9
Exports31,77833,4135.1
Total72,38376,4265.6
TruckImports27,43229,0285.8
Exports26,43127,7585.0
Total53,86356,7865.4
RailImports8,9709,1782.3
Exports4,2644,4273.8
Total13,23513,6042.8
PipelineImports4,2034,80714.4
Exports1,0831,22913.5
Total5,2866,03614.2
VesselImports2,8383,79233.6
Exports2,8384,02942.0
Total5,6757,82137.8
AirImports1,5351,69410.3
Exports2,1592,150-0.4
Total3,6943,8444.1
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_DataF....

Source: 

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

(millions of current dollars)
Mode December 2016 December 2017 Percent Change December 2016-2017
All ModesImports23,31125,4539.2
Exports21,16123,2509.9
Total44,47148,7029.5
All Surface ModesImports20,22621,7007.3
Exports16,64918,2349.5
Total36,87539,9348.3
TruckImports11,24311,7004.1
Exports13,97215,1398.4
Total25,21526,8406.4
RailImports4,7955,2048.5
Exports1,9772,25414.0
Total6,7727,45810.1
PipelineImports4,1874,79614.5
Exports70184019.9
Total4,8885,63615.3
VesselImports1,1161,54338.4
Exports4801,027113.9
Total1,5962,57061.1
AirImports9099818.0
Exports1,3301,4196.7
Total2,2392,4017.2
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_DataF....

Source: 

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

(millions of current dollars)
Mode December 2016 December 2017 Percent Change December 2016-2017
All ModesImports23,50425,0916.8
Exports19,11019,7183.2
Total42,61444,8105.2
All Surface ModesImports20,37921,3134.6
Exports15,12915,1790.3
Total35,50836,4932.8
TruckImports16,18917,3287.0
Exports12,45912,6181.3
Total28,64829,9464.5
RailImports4,1753,974-4.8
Exports2,2882,172-5.0
Total6,4636,146-4.9
PipelineImports1512-24.8
Exports3823891.7
Total3974000.7
VesselImports1,7222,24930.6
Exports2,3573,00227.4
Total4,0795,25128.7
AirImports62771313.7
Exports829731-11.8
Total1,4551,443-0.8
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_DataF....

Source: 

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

Updated: Tuesday, February 27, 2018