U.S. trade with its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in October 2013 was $103.1 billion, up 4.5 percent from October 2012 and exceeding $100 billion for the first month on record, according to freight data released today by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that three of the five transportation modes carried more U.S.-NAFTA trade in October 2013 than in October 2012. Total surface transportation trade, comprised of truck, rail and pipeline, was at an all-time high in October, at $85.4 billion. Truck, at $61.4 billion, and rail, at $15.9 billion, also reached record monthly levels.
Total surface transportation trade topped its previous high of $81.7 billion set in March 2013. The previous high for truck was $60.0 billion in October 2012, and for rail the previous high was $15.3 billion in May
Pipelines showed the most year-to-year growth at 23.7 percent. The increase in the value of freight carried by pipelines reflects the rise in prices for oil and other petroleum products, the primary commodity transported by pipelines.
Trade by Mode
Truck, which carries three-fifths of U.S.-NAFTA trade and is the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners, rose 3.1 percent year-to-year while rail rose 7.1 percent. Vessel declined 3.6 percent and air declined 1.0 percent.
Trucks carried 59.5 percent of the $103.1 billion of U.S.-NAFTA trade in October 2013 accounting for $32.3 billion of exports and $29.0 billion of imports. Truck was followed by rail at 15.4 percent, vessels at 8.8 percent, pipeline at 7.8 percent and air at 3.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.8 percent of the total NAFTA freight flows.
Trade with Canada
U.S.-Canada trade by vessel, of which 63.3 percent was imported, had the largest percentage increase of any mode from October 2012 to October 2013, growing 40.2 percent. Next highest was pipeline trade, which grew 26.7 percent during the same period. Petroleum products have the highest value of any commodity by both vessel and pipeline although pipelines carry four times the amount of petroleum from Canada to the U.S. as do vessels. U.S.-Canada pipeline trade comprises 96.1 percent of total U.S.-NAFTA pipeline trade. Freight moved by truck between the U.S. and Canada grew the least of any mode, 0.7 percent.
Trade with Mexico
U.S.-Mexico trade by rail had the largest percentage increase of any mode from October 2012 to October 2013, growing 10.9 percent. Freight moved by vessel between the U.S. and Mexico decreased by 18.8 percent due to a 25 percent drop in the value of mineral fuels (primarily oil and natural gas) moving between the U.S. and Mexico by vessel.
See BTS Transborder Data Release for summary tables, state rankings and additional data. See North American Transborder Freight Data on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004.