WASHINGTON — The value of cross-border shipments fell again in October — continuing a 2009 trend of substantial trade reductions compared to last year. The good news is that October was easily the best month of 2009.
Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico was 15.5 percent lower in October 2009 than in October 2008, dropping to $61.4 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
October was the first the month of 2009 with a year-to-year decline of less than 20 percent and the only month to top $60 billion.
Imports carried by truck were down 9.9 percent, while exports by truck were down 11.1 percent from the year before — again, less bad than other comparisons during the downturn.
Still, the comparisons show 2009 to be a rare setback for annual trade growth.
Through the first nine months of the year, NAFTA trade is down 27.5 percent from 2008.
NAFTA trade in 2008 improved by 4.1 percent over the previous year, and by 4.9 percent in 2007. NAFTA trade averaged more than 10 percent growth per year from to 2004 to 2006, and has hit double-digit growth five times. Slight year-to-year decreases were posted in 2001 and 2002. And prior to 2009, the $50 billion monthly trading level was last seen five years ago.
The value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico in October was up 7.9 percent compared to October 2004, and up 34.7 percent compared to October 1999. Imports in October were up 31.9 percent compared to October 1999, while exports were up 38.1 percent.
On a month-to-month basis, NAFTA trade rose 7.2 percent in October 2009 from September 2009. Month-to-month changes can be affected by seasonal variations and other factors, BTS reported.
NAFTA was implemented on Jan. 1, 1994. It is a comprehensive trade agreement designed to improve market access within North America. Surface transportation consists largely of freight movements by truck, rail and pipeline. About 88 percent of U.S. trade by value with Canada and Mexico moves on land.
U.S.–Canada surface transportation trade totaled $36.3 billion in October, down 19.0 percent compared to October 2008. The value of imports carried by truck was 15.8 percent lower in October 2009 compared to October 2008, while the value of exports carried by truck was 9.5 percent lower during this period.
Michigan led all states in surface trade with Canada in October with $4.8 billion, followed by Illinois ($3.1 billion) and California ($2.7 billion).
U.S.–Mexico surface transportation trade totaled $25.1 billion in October, down 10 percent compared to October 2008. The value of imports carried by truck was 4.2 percent lower in October 2009 than October 2008 while the value of exports carried by truck was 13.5 percent lower.
Texas led all states in surface trade with Mexico in October with $8.6 billion, followed by California ($3.8 billion) and Michigan ($2.3 billion).
The TransBorder Freight Data are a subset of official U.S. foreign trade statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau. BTS will release November 2009 TransBorder numbers on Jan. 28. 8
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.