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Trucks continue to lead trade parade with NAFTA partners

Trucks carry three-fifths of U.S.-NAFTA trade and are the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Here trucks are shown crossing the Ambassador Bridge into Canada. (Associated Press)

The Trucker News Services

6/26/2014

WASHINGTON — Two of five transportation modes – pipeline and trucks – carried more U.S.-NAFTA trade in April 2014 than in April 2013 as U.S.-NAFTA trade value rose to $100.1 billion, according to the TransBorder freight data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

The increases came in two modes that combined carry more than two-thirds of total U.S.-NAFTA trade. Trucks, at 60.3 percent of the April trade, and pipeline, at 8.6 percent, carried a total of 69.0 percent of the trade.

A 4.2 percent increase in imports by truck offset a 2.5 percent decline in exports from year-to-year. Imports from Canada and Mexico both increased while exports by truck on each of the borders decreased. An increase in both imports and exports by pipeline across the Canadian border pushed pipeline’s share of total trade to 8.6 percent from 6.8 percent in April 2013.

The April 2014 trade total was a 1.2 percent increase from April 2013. U.S.-NAFTA trade has increased from the same month of the previous year in nine of the last 10 months, interrupted by a 0.2 percent decrease in January. The January decline reflected the severe weather in the northern states and along the U.S.-Canada border.

In April, commodities moving by pipeline grew the most of any mode, 27.8 percent. Truck freight increased 0.7 percent, rail declined 1.8 percent followed by declines in air at 3.1 and vessel at 13.2. The increase in the value of freight carried by pipelines reflects both a rise in the volume and prices for oil and other petroleum products, the primary commodity transported by pipelines.

Trucks carry three-fifths of U.S.-NAFTA trade and are the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks carried 60.3 percent of U.S.-NAFTA trade in April 2014, accounting for $30.6 billion of exports and $29.8 billion of imports.

 Although the value of freight carried by rail decreased from year to year, rail remained the second largest mode moving 14.7 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA trade, followed by pipeline at 8.6 percent, vessel at 7.9 percent and air at 3.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.7 percent of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

Year-to-year, the value of U.S.-Canada trade by pipeline increased the most of any mode, growing 28.8 percent. U.S.-Canada pipeline trade comprised 95.3 percent of total U.S.-NAFTA pipeline trade in April. Vessel freight exports to Canada increased 18.5 percent while imports declined 33.3 percent; a total vessel trade decline of 16.6 percent.

Trade using trucks rose by 0.4 percent while air freight declined 7.7 percent. U.S.-Canada trade by rail declined 6.5 percent, with an 11.3 percent fall in imports, due in part to a decrease in trade of vehicles and parts.

Trucks carried 54.4 percent of the $55.8 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail at 15.8 percent, pipeline at 14.8 percent, vessel at 4.9 percent and air at 4.2 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.9 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

Year-to-year, the value of trade by pipeline increased the most of any mode, growing 10.8 percent, but pipeline trade remained less than 1 percent of total U.S.-Mexico trade and the smallest of the modes based on value. Trade with Mexico by truck rose 1.1 percent and rail freight rose 6.1 percent. Air freight also rose 6.1 percent while freight moved by vessel declined 11.2 percent.  

Trucks carried 67.8 percent of the $44.4 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail at 13.4 percent, vessel at 11.7 percent, air at 3.0 percent and pipeline at 0.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.1 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

In April 2014, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, of which $8.2 billion, or 64.2 percent, moved by pipeline. The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in April 2014 was electrical machinery, of which $7.3 billion, or 91.7 percent, moved by trucks.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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