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Q1. Is there one source that I can go to that will have all the information I need about U.S. international trade and transportation?
In the United States, multiple agencies and organizations (both public and private) are involved in the collection, processing and dissemination of international trade and transportation data. No one dataset provides all the information requirements needed by the transportation community. Data collection approaches may also vary. Some data are required by regulation and can be considered administrative data. Others are collected via surveys. Some data are reported by carriers while other data represent information from shippers. The integration of these different data sources helps to provide a more complete picture of U.S. international trade and transportation flows and trends. However, several challenges do arise when using multiple data sources, including variations in accuracy, reliability, time series, and data field definitions.

Q2. What types of international trade and transportation data are collected for the United States and what are their sources?
U.S. international trade and transportation data can be categorized into three primary categories. These are: administrative trade statistics, carrier-based data and shipper-based data. Data in these categories may be required by regulation, collected via a survey or compiled for a special study.

Administrative Trade Statistics
International merchandise trade statistics for the United States are processed and released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. Census-based merchandise trade data are captured from administrative documents required by the Departments of Commerce and now the Department of Homeland Security. Historically, these data have primarily reflected information filed by shippers (or their representatives) rather than carriers. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Border Protection is responsible for collecting this information, either in paper or electronic form at U.S. ports of entry, exit or clearance. Currently, electronic information is captured through the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) for imports and the Automated Export System (AES) for exports, together known as the Automated Commercial System (ACS). (Customs is developing a new system to replace the ACS, as part of its modernization efforts. This is known as the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).

Once the data are collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Census Bureau is responsible for quality assurance and verification of the official U.S. international trade statistics. Census also releases a number of products in a wide variety of formats. In addition, other federal agencies receive special tabulations from the Census Bureau, based on the official U.S. international trade statistics. These agencies then perform additional quality assurance reviews and analyses for their own purposes and to meet the needs of their customers. These include: data on North American land trade (released to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics (RITA/BTS) and disseminated as the North American Transborder Freight Data); data on U.S. international maritime trade (released to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the Army Corps of Engineers and disseminated in multiple formats); data on U.S. transportation related goods and overall trade data (released to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and disseminated in multiple formats, including balance of payments information).

A wide variety of transportation and transportation related data elements are collected as part of the filing requirements for import and export transactions. This includes, for example, data elements such as value, commodity, weight, country of origin and destination, U.S. port or gateway, freight charges, etc. From a transportation perspective, several federal agencies are involved in data processing, analysis and dissemination of official international trade statistics, in addition to the Census Bureau. The primary agencies involved, from a transportation perspective, are listed below:

  • Overall levels of U.S. international trade with focus on country information and/or detailed commodity information: U.S. Census Bureau and other agencies that repackage Census-based trade statistics such as the International Trade Commission (http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/)
  • Maritime trade and transportation related data: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Department of Defense and the Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (http://www.marad.dot.gov/library_landing_page/data_and_statistics/Data_and_Statistics.htm)
  • Land trade and transportation related data: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/)
  • Air trade: Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division (Limited information is available from their existing products. Through special tabulation requests, users can obtain more detail.)
  • Multimodal trade and transportation data integration, analysis and dissemination: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation

As noted above, customers can obtain access to data on overall levels of U.S. international trade directly from the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division or from other federal agencies that have developed user-friendly summaries and queries for these data. These include the International Trade Commission's Interactive Tariff and Trade Data Web available at http://dataweb.usitc.gov/, which provides interactive access to monthly data on U.S. international trade with commodity, value and country detail through interactive queries. In addition, the international Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce offers a variety of summarized downloadable annual data tables on U.S. international trade available at http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/industry/otea/.

In addition to the administrative trade statistics, other types of data are also available to assess U.S. international trade and transportation. These include carrier and shipper based sources. Some examples of carrier based sources include:

  • International air freight data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Airline Information (OAI), maritime data from the Journal of Commerce's Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS), and special periodic surveys such as the Canada’s National Roadside Survey (NRS).
  • The international air freight data from the Office of Airline Information (OAI) at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, includes data on the weight of air cargo carried between U.S. airports and foreign airports. The data represents non-stop bi-directional air trade by U.S. and foreign carriers between the United States and other countries and as such differs from U.S. Census Bureau's merchandise trade statistics. The airport data from the RITA/BTS source also reflect actual U.S. airports, not U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports (Customs ports are the basis for air ports of entry for administrative trade statistics). For international air freight analysis, the OAI data provide more detailed geographic and route information, from a carrier perspective. This type of information is not included in the administrative trade statistics released by the Census Bureau. However, the OAI data do not have information on commodity nor value, and these two data elements that are included in the administrative trade statistics.
  • The maritime data from the Journal of Commerce's Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS), a private source, includes data on detailed waterborne cargo, including weight and commodity detail. The PIERS data reports containerized cargo by twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) as well as by tonnage. The source of PIERS data is the vessel manifest for all vessels entering and exiting the United States. Because the data are based on the vessel manifest information, the level of precision for the commodity and value data will differ from that reported in administrative trade statistics. The coverage of the dataset also includes transshipment activity, or shipments passing through the United States, but not part of official U.S. international trade. Therefore, the PIERS data captures a wider range of activity than is represented in official U.S. international trade statistics (which do not include transshipments).
  • In addition to OAI and PIERS, periodic surveys are collected in specific regional areas and for specific time periods. Such surveys may have a very limited time series, but can be used in conjunction with more detailed data sources. An example of this is the National Roadside Survey of Canada. This national survey was a carrier based intercept survey for trucks that was conducted in 1991, 1995, 1999, and 2006. It was originally designed to capture information on commercial truck activity among Canadian provinces. The 1999 National Roadside Study was expanded to include coverage of bi-directional truck activity at the U.S.-Canadian border. The information on U.S.-Canada truck freight covers origin and destination, major Canada-U.S. truck freight routes, commodity classification, weight and value and truck volumes by state/province and major border crossing. A component was included in the 2006 NRS.

Shipper Based Sources
In addition to these carrier sources, there are shipper-based survey sources that provide some information on U.S. international trade and transportation. An example of this is the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) conducted in 1993, 1997, and 2002. The CFS is conducted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation the U.S. Census Bureau. Because it is a survey of U.S. domestic establishments, it captures information on export shipments from these establishments. For the 1997 survey, a special tabulation on exports was released. This covered information on the value and tonnage for exports by the export mode of transportation. It also included information on value, tonnage, and ton-miles for exports by the domestic mode of transportation. Due to changes in the sample size for the 2002 CFS, the special tabulations for exports may not have the same level of detail as reported for the 1997 CFS. The export data from the CFS is limited due to the exclusion of industries outside the scope of the CFS. Therefore the data released is not directly comparable to merchandise trade exports released by other sources, including the Census-based foreign trade statistics. The CFS export data is collected by asking respondents to report the foreign city, country of destination, and mode of transport by which the shipment left the country. Respondents are also asked to report the U.S. port, airport, or border crossing of exit and to report the "domestic mode" of transport used to reach the U.S. destination.)

Data Source Integration
To fully assess U.S. international trade and transportation issues, customers may need to rely upon multiple data sources, including some of the administrative, carrier and shipper based data discussed here. In doing so, customers will want to review the data definitions, time series, methodology, in order to determine how to adequately link multiple sources for analysis.

Q3. Specifically, where can I find U.S. international trade and transportation statistics?
From a transportation perspective, several federal agencies are involved in data processing, analysis and dissemination of official international trade statistics. The primary agencies involved, from a transportation perspective are listed below, as well as some of their key products and services.

Overall Merchandise Trade:
The Foreign Trade Division at the Census Bureau offers a wide range of products and services, including much aggregated information online at their website http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/ , as well as detailed data released on CD-Rom and DVD. One of the most utilized products is their monthly data release on U.S. Imports of Merchandise and U.S. Exports of Merchandise. These are released on DVD-ROM and contain information on U.S. imports and exports with value, weight, commodity, mode, and country detail.

Maritime Trade and Transportation:
The Waterborne Commerce Center of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Office of Statistical and Economic Analysis at the Maritime Administration offer a wide range of products and services specific to maritime trade and transportation. Specifically, the Waterborne Commerce Center releases the Waterborne Commerce of the United States, a series of publications that provides statistics on the foreign and domestic waterborne commerce moved on the United States waters. Also available is the Public Domain Database, which contains aggregated information of foreign and domestic waterborne cargo movements. Their website can be accessed here: http://www.iwr.usace.army.mil/ndc/wcsc/wcsc.htm.
The Maritime Administration releases a wide variety of data and statistical reports on U.S. foreign waterborne commerce, with geographic (port, state, country), vessel, and value/weight information. MARAD also releases U.S. Exports and Imports Transshipped via Canada and Mexico, which summarizes U.S. maritime transshipments through Canada and Mexico, including a series of tables that summarize this traffic by U.S. Customs and Border Protection District, foreign trade area, and commodity. Marad's information can be accessed at:http://www.marad.dot.gov/library_landing_page/data_and_statistics/Data_and_Statistics.htm
In addition to these federal sources, the Journal of Commerce's Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS) provides data on U.S. international maritime activity, and has data on TEUs.

Land Trade and Transportation:
Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation offers a wide range of products and services specific to U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico by land modes of transportation (truck, rail, pipeline, mail and other). Data are released on a monthly and annual basis in a number of formats, including: monthly detailed data, monthly. (www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/)

Air Trade and Transportation:
Air trade data from official U.S. international trade statistics can be obtained from the Foreign Trade Division at the Census Bureau. The monthly data releases of U.S. Imports of Merchandise and U.S. Exports of Merchandise on DVD-ROM contain information on the value and weight of U.S. imports and exports by air with commodity detail. Information on U.S ports of entry or exit for air trade must be requested as a special tabulation from the Census Bureau. In addition to administrative trade statistics, carrier-based data on international air freight activity is also available from the RITA/BTS, Office of Airline Information (OAI) at the national aggregate level. The RITA/BTS publishes aggregated air data in a number of reports, including the National Transportation Statistics, well as the U.S. International Trade and Freight Transportation Trends report. Additional information on OAI data is available at: www.bts.gov/oai. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Aviation and International Affairs at DOT also releases a summary report, based on OAI data, which provides information on U.S. international passenger and freight statistics. This is released quarterly, and can be found at http://ostpxweb.dot.gov/aviation.

Multimodal Trade and Transportation:
Multimodal trade and transportation data and analysis are available from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation collects and integrates a wide range of international trade and transportation data from a variety of sources, and then provides summarized data tables. Data tables and analyses are included in many agencies products, such as the Pocket guide to Transportation, the National Transportation Statistics (NTS) and the Transportation Statistics Annual Report (TSAR). In addition, RITA/BTS conducts analysis and release interpretive reports on a wide variety of issues pertaining specifically to international trade and transportation. These include: U.S. International Trade and Freight Transportation Trends (March 2003), North American Trade and Travel Trends (November 2001) along with shorter analyses and press releases. These are available in hardcopy form from the RITA/BTS Info Services at 800-853-1351 or email. They are also available online at the RITA/BTS website: www.bts.gov

Q4. Are manifest data currently collected and released by the U.S. government for all modes of transportation and all international trade transactions?
No. Currently, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) only collects and releases manifest data for U.S. international maritime trade. Similar data for other modes is not available. Because both shippers based administrative trade data and manifest data are collected for the maritime mode, there are fewer transportation related data gaps for the marine mode than for other modes of transportation. In addition, the linkage of both the manifest and shipper based data sources facilitates additional data verification and quality improvements to maritime trade and transportation data. These are performed by the Waterborne Commerce Center of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Maritime Administration. New Customs and federal government initiatives will require the reporting of both shipper and manifest (from carriers) information for all modes of transportation as part of the efforts to modernize Customs' systems and develop a one-stop federal data collection effort, known as International Trade Data System or ITDS.

Q5. Is there an overall guide to U.S. administrative trade statistics? Where can I find it?
Yes. The Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division website contains such a document. It is called the Guide to Foreign Trade Statistics and is available at: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/guide/index.html. The guide provides information on the various sources of foreign trade statistics, provides definitions and details coverage information for the data elements that are collected as part of an international trade transaction. Please note that this guide is not a guide to all other data sources that can be used in analyzing U.S. international trade and transportation. It is a guide to explain in greater detail U.S. international trade statistics that are collected by CBP and released by the Census Bureau. It does not provide an overview of non-administrative trade data sources.

Q6. Why does U.S. international trade data differ from the data of other countries, such as Canada and Mexico, and what types of trade data reconciliation occurs?
Official U.S. international trade statistics may differ from similar data reported by other countries. For example, the U.S. government may report U.S. exports to Mexico for a specific amount. The Mexican government may report a different number for Mexican imports from the United States. In theory, these figures should be quite comparable. Depending on the trade partner they may be. However, differences do occur at both the aggregate and detailed levels of trade (for example, at the commodity or modal level). These differences occur due to the different types of processing, quality assurance, editing and validation that each country may perform on its data once it is reported to the government. An example of one specific difference is with shipments of a "low-value". The United States does not require that information be filed on imports or exports below a defined level (for example, less than $2,500 for exports). In contrast, some countries record all transactions regardless of value. Another difference may be how each government determines country of origin for commodities. For example, prior to May 2001, Mexican import documents, used by Mexican Customs, only allowed the reporting of one country of origin. If there was more than one country of origin the total value was attributed to the country with the largest value.

The United States and Canada have less trade reconciliation problems than other countries. This is because the United States and Canada initiated a trade data exchange in 1987. Under this agreement, each country only collects import data, and then exchanges with the other country on a monthly basis to create each country's export figures. Thus, at the national level, official international trade statistics reported by the Canadian and U.S. governments will generally agree. However, there are still reconciliation levels at the detailed level (for example, port, state or mode) because of reporting differences or differing verification procedures. For more information on the trade data reconciliation issues for North America, please visit the Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division's website for the full report on "Merchandise Trade Reconciliation U.S.-Canada-Mexico" here: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/index.html.

Q7. Which Canadian and Mexican government agencies are responsible for trade statistics?
For Canada, the International Trade Division of Statistics Canada is the main source of Customs-based trade data. More information on Statistics Canada is available at http://www.statcan.ca/start.html Transport Canada, in particular the Economic Analysis Directorate, also conducts a variety of trade and transportation analyses based on administrative (Customs) statistics from Statistics Canada as well as a number of carrier-based sources. More information on Transport Canada is available at http://www.tc.gc.ca/.

For Mexico, there are a number of sources for international trade and transportation data. The two main sources of Customs-based trade data are the Bank of Mexico and Mexico's national statistical agency, INEGI - Institutor Nacional de Estadistica, Geografia e Infomatica: http://www.inegi.gob.mx/. In addition, the transportation agencies in the Mexican government obtain carrier-based information and conduct a wide variety of trade and transportation analyses. This includes the Mexican Department of Transportation, or Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (http://www.sct.gob.mx/) as well as the Instituto Mexicano del Transporte (http://www.imt.mx/)

Q8. Where can I get data for other countries?
The International Trade Administration (ITA) maintains a list of international trade data sources as well as sources for other macroeconomic data on their website. From the ITA main page (http://www.trade.gov/) select the link for Trade Statistics, which will take you to the web page for the Office of Trade and Economic Analysis. On this page you should find a link for Global Data Links. This is a list of websites for agencies in many countries that provide trade or economic data for their respective country.

Q9. Where can I find information on U.S. government regulations for importing and exporting?
Numerous federal agencies are involved, at some level, in the import and export process. For example, the Animal and Plant Health inspection Service (APHIS) focuses on threat reduction for U.S. agriculture from pests or diseases. APHIS plays a major role in ensuring that US agricultural exports are accessible to foreign countries, and also works with countries seeking to establish preclearance programs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating products for international trade such as: food, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biologics, animal drugs and feed, radiation-emitting products and cosmetics. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) oversees the development of compatible motor carrier safety requirements and procedures throughout North America in the context of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These are just a few examples, and there are many more federal agencies that have requirements that affect an international import or export transaction. The U.S. government, through the International Trade Data System, is working to develop a one-stop shop for filing of information related to cargo, crew and conveyances involved in international trade transactions. Under this system, being developed in phases, over the next several years, the requirements of all U.S. federal agencies would be represented.
In terms of import requirements, the primary U.S. federal agency with oversight in this area is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Border Protection (now) of the Department of Homeland Security. Information on Customs import requirements can be found at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/. General information on export requirements can be found at the Census Bureau's web site http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/regulations/index.html, as well as the International Trade Administration web site at: http://www.export.gov/

Q10. Where can I find information about how to export from the United States?
The Trade Information Center (TIC) at the International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce is the first stop for companies seeking export assistance from the U.S. government and comprehensive export counseling programs. TIC trade specialists: advise exporters on how to find and use government programs; guide businesses through the export process; direct businesses to market research and trade leads; provide information on overseas and domestic trade events and activities; supply sources of public and private export financing; inform callers on how to access reports and statistics from the computerized National Trade Data Bank (NTDB); and direct businesses to state and local trade organizations that provide additional assistance. The TIC also provides export counseling for Western Europe, Asia, the Western Hemisphere, Africa, and the Near East. TIC trade specialists can assist exporters on: import tariffs/taxes and customs procedures; standards, intellectual property rights, government procurement, and other commercial laws, regulations, and practices; distribution channels, business travel, and other market information; opportunities and best prospects for U.S. companies in individual markets; and difficulties encountered on specific commercial transactions. You can obtain more information on the TIC by visiting their website here: http://www.trade.gov/td/tic/.

Q11. What are the sources of the North American Transborder Freight Data?
The North American Transborder Freight Dataset is a special tabulation of U.S. official international trade statistics that are collected by CBP and processed and validated by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, RITA at the U.S. Department of Transportation contracts with the Census Bureau to perform this special tabulation and make these data available to the transportation community.

Q12. Are the North American Transborder Freight Data collected via a survey?
No. These data are administrative, regulatory data required by the U.S. government as part of the import/export procedures established by CBP and the U.S. Census Bureau. Therefore they represent an entire "census" of U.S. trade. They are not survey data. Instead they are a special subset of official U.S. international trade statistics.

Q13. What is the time series of the North American Transborder Freight Dataset, and why isn't it available prior to 1993?
The North American Transborder Freight Data is available in monthly detail for April 1993 through the present, although not all data elements currently available in the dataset were available beginning at that time. Prior to 1993, the Census Bureau only provided mode of transportation information for air, water and other. No detail was available for surface trade. In response to growth in North American trade and the anticipated passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S. Department of Transportation requested that the Census Bureau develop a monthly tabulation of official trade statistics whereby the previous "other" category could be separated into individual surface modes for U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico. Thus, prior to April 1993, it is not possible to report any data that are disaggregated by surface mode. Starting January 2004 air and vessel data were provided by the census to the BTS, RITA, DOT

Q14. Who (What agency) primarily establishes the data filing requirements for imports and exports?
The Customs and Border Protection Services (CBP) under the Department of Homeland Security is responsible for determining the majority of the requirements on data filing for imports. The U.S. Census Bureau determines the requirements for commodity based export information. CBP carries out enforcement of these and other trade regulations for both imports and exports, however. In addition, other federal agencies may have other operational or safety filing requirements for cargo, conveyances and crew involved in an international trade transaction.

Q15. Why there are differences between the administrative trade data elements for imports and exports, and how does this affect the North American Transborder Freight Dataset?
Historically, the differences and coverage and definitions for U.S. imports and exports are primarily due to the fact that two different agencies, CBP and U.S. Census have different authorities and mission requirements. Therefore, the import data that have traditionally been collected as part of a U.S. international trade transaction could vary from the same type of information that is required for exports. (The most obvious example in the North American Transborder Freight Data is that Census currently does not require that weight data be collected for U.S. exports by land modes. In contrast, CBP requires weight data for all imports for all modes of transportation.) New Customs and federal government initiatives that will require the reporting of both shipper and manifest (from carriers) information for all modes of transportation, known as International Trade Data System (ITDS), are also focusing on ensuring reporting and definitional consistency for imports and exports.

Q16. What is the coverage of the North American Transborder Freight Data?
Beginning with the 1997 data, the North American Transborder Freight Data represents official U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico for shipments that entered or exited the United States by surface modes of transport (other than air or vessel). The data from April 1993 to December 1996 included official U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico by surface modes and transshipments that moved from a third country through Canada or Mexico to the United States or from the United States to a third country through Canada or Mexico. For this time period, it was not possible to separate transshipment activity from the official trade activity at the detailed level. Due to customer requests, RITA/BTS discontinued the inclusion of transshipment activity in the North American Transborder Freight Data beginning with the January 1997 data month. This allows customers to perform comparable trade analyses by mode of transportation. Starting January 2004, North American Transborder freight data is available for air and vessel modes.

Q17. Does the North American Transborder Freight Data include transshipment or in-transit activity? If not, why not?
The data from April 1993 to December 1996 included official U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico by surface modes and transshipments that moved from a third country through Canada or Mexico to the United States or from the United States to a third country through Canada or Mexico. For this time period, it was not possible to separate transshipment activity from the official trade activity at the detailed level. However, in other Census trade statistics, transshipments through Canada and Mexico are credited to the true country of origin or final destination. Therefore, to make this dataset more comparable to official U.S. international trade statistics, and in order to undertake multimodal analysis of trade and transportation, the detailed information on transshipments was removed.

Q18. What is the commodity classification used for the North American Transborder Freight Dataset?
The commodity classification used in the North American Transborder Freight Dataset is the Harmonized Schedule (HS) for internationally traded commodities. Data are available at the 2-digit HS level. You can find more information on the HS, and other explanations of the North American Transborder Freight Dataset in the Sources and Reliability Statement, which is available at http://www.bts.gov/transborder/index.html. In addition, you can find more information on the HS at the International Trade Commission (http://www.usitc.gov/). The International Trade Commission is the U.S. agency responsible for updating the Harmonized Schedule for the United States.

Q19. Why are two different classifications used for imports and exports?
All of the imports and export commodity classification codes used by the United States are based on the Harmonized Schedule (HS). There are differences in the level of commodity detail that the United States obtains for imports and exports. Generally, much more detail is collected on import commodities-up to the 10-digit level. Export codes (which the United States calls Schedule B) are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Import codes are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (which is called the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated or TSUSA). The Schedule B codes for exports and the TSUSA codes for imports are both based on the international Harmonized Schedule. Therefore, the import and export codes are essentially the same at the 2-digit level.

Q20. Where can I find additional information for the Schedule B and TSUSA?
Information on U.S. commodity codes for imports (sometimes referred to as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) or the Tariff Schedule of the United States (TSUSA)) is available from the International Trade Commission at: http://www.usitc.gov/tata/index.htm. Information on export codes (Schedule B) is available from the Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division at: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/.

Q21. How do the commodity classifications differ from industry classifications such Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and other domestic classifications such as the Standard Classification of Transported Goods (SCTG)?
In order to compare many types of economic statistics, classification systems must be used, especially for industries and goods. Commodity classifications such as Harmonized Schedule (HS) and SCTG are descriptions of individual products. In fact, the SCTG coding system was developed from the HS coding system. The Standard Classification of Transported Goods (SCTG) was jointly developed by agencies of the United States and Canadian governments to address statistical needs that the United States and Canada share in common, and to meet the individual needs of each country in regard to products transported. The goals were to: (1) improve the product categories used for collecting and reporting transportation survey data; (2) create an integrated product category for reporting Canadian marine, truck, and rail freight data; and (3) have the capability to directly compare Canadian and U.S. freight movement data.

  • Prior to the 1997 Commodity Flow Survey, U.S. freight data were collected and reported using the Standard Transportation Commodity Classification (STCC) code. This classification code was developed in the early 1960s by the American Association of Railroads (AAR) to analyze commodity movements by rail only. Following the adoption of the SCTG for use by both United States and Canada, it is now possible to directly compare international shipments between the United States and Canada. Because the HS coding system is the predominant product coding system currently in use worldwide, the SCTG is based on the HS. This improves the ability of comparing U.S. international freight data with domestic freight data. The use of HS based systems also facilitates the comparison of U.S. internationally traded goods with those of other countries.
  • In comparison to commodity classifications such as the HS and SCTG, there are also industry classifications. Historically, the United States has reported economic industry data using the Standard Industry Classification or SIC. The SIC is being replaced with the new North American Industry Classification, developed jointly by the United States, Canada, and Mexico to provide new comparability in statistics about economic activity across North America.
  • Linking industry and commodity data is often done for economic analysis. The rearrangement of the import and export commodity data into a structure related to the statistical classification of products by industry facilitates the comparison of the U.S. import and export statistics with data for domestic production and other U.S. economic statistics. International commodity classifications under the Harmonized Schedule are summarized by the Census Bureau into approximately 450 4-digit SIC-based import and approximately 430 4-digit SIC-based export codes. Trade data linking commodities with specific industries are available from several federal sources, including the Census Bureau, the International Trade Commission, the International Trade Administration and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. These are the links to the agency sites: Census: (http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/index.html), ITC: (http://dataweb.usitc.gov/); ITA: (http://www.ita.doc.gov/); and BEA: (http://www.bea.gov/).

Q22. How are ports defined in the North American Transborder Freight Dataset, and which agency is responsible for maintaining this information?
The field "DEPE" represents the U.S. Customs and Border Protection district and port of entry or exit for U.S. international trade. For U.S. imports, and due to current filing procedures, the Customs port represents where the entry documentation was filed with Customs and the duties paid. This may not always be where the goods physically entered the United States. For U.S. exports, the district and port of export field identifies the U.S. Customs and Border Protection port where the shipment is cleared for export. It is supposed to represent the last U.S. Customs and Border Protection port cleared. The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for maintaining the list of Customs districts/ports, codes and descriptions. This is known as the Schedule D.

Q23. Where can I find information on Customs port codes and districts?
A complete list of U.S. Customs and Border Protection port codes is maintained as the Schedule D, (U.S. Customs and Border Protection districts/ports, codes and descriptions) and is available from U.S. Census Bureau. The most recent Schedule D is available from the Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division at http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/reference/codes/index.html#D

Q24. What are the U.S. state codes based on?
U.S. State codes are based on the 2-digit U.S. postal code. When a U.S. state is unknown, the code is " DU".

Q25. What are the Canadian Province codes based on and have there been any changes over time?
For U.S. imports from Canada, the Canadian province of origin is intended to reflect the province where the goods were grown, manufactured or otherwise produced. However, the province information may also reflect the province used as the mailing address of the Canadian exporter or the address of an intermediary, and therefore in some instances, may not always be the actual province of physical origin. Prior to the May 1997 data month, province of origin information was captured from the manufacturer's identification code (MID). However, starting with May 1997, information on where a product was grown or manufactured became a required reporting field for U.S. Customs and Border Protection purposes. For U.S. exports to Canada, the Canadian province represents the Canadian province of clearance. The province of clearance is the province in which Canadian Customs cleared the shipment, and is not necessarily the province of final destination.

  • The North American Transborder Freight Dataset uses an assigned code to represent Canadian provinces, as shown below. These do not correspond to provincial mail codes used by the Canadian government. Please note that in April 1999, a new territory, Nunavut, was established in Canada.
Province Code
Alberta XA
British Columbia XC
Manitoba XM
New Brunswick XB
Newfoundland XW
Northwest Territories XT
Nova Scotia XN
Ontario XO
Prince Edward Island XP
Quebec XQ
Saskatchewan XS
Nunavut XV
Yukon Territory XY
Province Unknown OT

Q26. What are the Mexican State codes based on, and have there been any changes over time?
For U.S. exports to Mexico, the Mexican state of destination is the state in which the ultimate consignee is located in Mexico, and is not necessarily the state of final destination. Census captures the data field for the Mexican state of destination (or MEXSTATE) from the ultimate consignee's address. If a Mexican state of destination cannot be identified for a particular shipment, it is considered unknown and coded as 'OT' in the data field. Data for the Mexican state of origin for U.S. imports from Mexico is not captured as part of current trade filing requirements.

  • The North American Transborder Freight Dataset uses an assigned code to represent Mexican states, as shown below. These do not correspond to state mail codes used by the Mexican government.
  • Customers should also note that until May 1998, Baja California Norte was listed as a Mexican state due to an error in geographic identification. The actual Mexican state is Baja California. For the period April 1994 to May 1998, the total amount of trade for this state would be the sum of the Baja California Norte and Baja California categories. Beginning in June 1998 and subsequently, the correct state is listed as Baja California.
State Code
Aguascalientes AG
Baja California BC
Baja California Norte BN
Baja California Sur BS
Chihuahua CH
Colima CL
Campeche CM
Coahuila CO
Chiapas CS
Distrito Federal DF
Durango DG
Guerrero GR
Guanajuato GT
Hidalgo HG
Jalisco JA
Michoacan MI
Morelos MO
Estado de Mexico MX
Nayarit NA
Nuevo Leon NL
Oaxaca OA
Puebla PU
Quintana Roo QR
Queretaro QT
Sinaloa SI
San Luis Potosi SL
Sonora SO
Tabasco TB
Tlaxcala TL
Tamaulipas TM
Veracruz VE
Yucatan YU
Zacatecas ZA
State Unknown OT

Q27. How are land modes of transportation defined in the North American Transborder Freight Data?
The field 'mode of transportation' (DISAGMOT) identifies the surface or "other" mode of transport (MOT) of shipments entering or exiting the United States. The specific mode of transportation codes are listed below:
(1) Water
(3) Air
(4) mail (U.S. Postal Service),
(5) truck,
(6) rail,
(7) pipeline,
(8) other, and
(9) Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs).

  • For further information regarding the mode breakdown please refer to the Sources and Reliability Statement here: http://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/.
  • The mode of transportation "mail"(or DISGMOT 4) is for U.S. Postal Service shipments, and cannot be further subdivided into either rail or truck shipments.
  • The mode of transportation, "other" (or DISAGMOT 8), includes "flyaway aircraft, "or aircraft moving under their own power (i.e., aircraft moving from the aircraft manufacturer to a customer and not carrying any freight), powerhouse (electricity), vessels moving under their own power, pedestrians carrying freight, unknown and miscellaneous other.
  • For imports, foreign trade zones are also considered a mode for this dataset. The actual mode of transportation is not available for imports into FTZs, and therefore they were included as MOT "Other," prior to April 1995. In April 1995, as the result of inquiries from users, the mode of transport, "foreign trade zones", (or DISAGMOT 9) was added after a Census Bureau investigation. Although FTZ is being treated as a mode of transportation in this dataset, the actual mode for a specific shipment into or out of a foreign trade zone is unknown because U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not collect this information.

Q28. When is mode of transportation defined?
For land trade, the filing requirements indicate that the mode of transportation is to be recorded as the method of transportation in use when the shipment enters or departs the United States. Thus, if a shipment was sent from Kansas City to the Port of Laredo for export and went via rail from Kansas City to Dallas and then was shifted to truck and arrived and crossed the U.S.-Mexico border by truck, it is supposed to be reported as a truck shipment.

Q29. Are Intermodal shipments included in this dataset?
By nature of the activity, many international trade shipments involve more than one mode. However, due to the way international trade statistics are currently defined and collected, it is not possible to report on the modes of transportation used throughout the entire journey of the shipment from the foreign point of origin to the final destination in the United States (as an example, for imports). Thus, the mode in the North American Transborder Freight Data is supposed to represent the mode by which they enter or exit the United States.

Q30. What are Foreign Trade Zones, and why are they considered an "import mode"?
Foreign-trade zones are designated sites licensed by the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board (the Secretary of Commerce is Chairperson) at which special Customs procedures may be used. FTZ procedures allow domestic processing involving foreign items to take place in approved FTZ zones. The goods are then treated as if they were outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection territory, thus offsetting Customs advantages available to overseas producers.
In April 1995, as the result of inquiries from users, the mode of transport, 'foreign trade zones' was added after a Census Bureau investigation. Although FTZ is being treated as a mode of transportation in this dataset, the actual mode for a specific shipment into or out of a foreign trade zone is unknown because Customs does not collect this information.

Q31. What does the value field represent? Does it differ for imports and exports?
Imports: The data field "VALUE" refers to the Customs value or the value of merchandise for duty purposes. It is usually the selling price in the foreign country of origin. It excludes freight costs, insurance and other charges incurred in bringing the merchandise from the foreign port of export to the United States.

Exports: The data field "VALUE" refers to the value of the merchandise, usually the selling price, plus insurance and freight at the U. S. port of export. The value, as defined, excludes the cost of loading the merchandise aboard the exporting carrier at the port of export and also excludes freight, insurance, and any charges or transportation costs beyond the U.S. port of exportation.

Q32. What type of state level data is available in this dataset?
For U.S. exports, two state fields “EXSTATE” and “ORSTATE” were reported through December 2002. The state field “EXSTATE” that was discontinued beginning with the January 2003 data is the U.S. state of exporter. This refers to the state of the U.S. exporter who is responsible for initiating the export shipment. The state of the U.S. exporter may or may not correspond with the U.S. state of origin because the producer of a particular commodity may not necessarily be the actual exporter. For instance, the state of exporter may reflect the U.S. state of a company's headquarters rather than the actual state of physical origin in the U.S. These data are available through December 2002. With the release of December 2002 statistics on February 20, 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau discontinued the state export series based on the exporter location. Beginning with the January 2003 data, only one state field continues to be reported, and that is for U.S. state of origin. The U.S. state of origin field ("ORSTATE") refers to the state from which the shipment starts its journey to the port of export. For many large agricultural and bulk shipments, the state often reflects the consolidation point or port of exit. The original intention of RITA/BTS and Census was to capture state of origin, that is, the state where the goods were grown, manufactured or otherwise produced. However, in practice, the state of origin information currently available in the dataset may or may not represent this type of origin. The state of origin may also represent the mailing address of the U.S. exporter that may or may not be the actual physical state of origin. The state of origin may also represent the location of an intermediary such as a wholesaler, retailer, or distributor. RITA/BTS has primarily relied upon the state of origin information for trade and transportation analysis.

For U.S. imports, the state of destination “DESTATE” is based on address of the U.S. importer of record. The importer of record for Customs purposes is the party responsible for paying the duties. The state may not always represent the physical destination of the import goods, since the importers address may not necessarily be the same state as the destination of the goods.

Starting January 2007 “USASTATE” was added ( to replace “DESTATE” & “ORSTATE”).This new data field identifies the U.S. state of origin for exports to or state of destination for import from Canada and/or Mexico. The state may not always represent the physical origin or destination of the import or export goods, since the exporters or importer’s address may not necessarily be the same state as the origin or destination of the goods. Another new field “TRDTYPE” identifies the direction in which the commodity is moved. The “USSTATE” with “TRDTYPE” will identify the origin and destination information based on import and export.

For Mexico, information is available for the Mexican state of destination for U.S. exports to Mexico. These data are based on the ultimate consignee's address in Mexico. For Canada, information is available for the Canadian province of clearance for U.S. exports to Canada. These data represent the province in which Canadian Customs cleared the shipment, and is not necessarily the province of final destination. For U.S. imports from Canada, the Canadian province of origin is intended to represent the province where the goods were grown, manufactured or otherwise produced. However, the province information may also reflect the province used as the mailing address of the Canadian exporter or the address of an intermediary, and therefore in some instances may not always be the actual province of physical origin.

Q33. Where can I find state level information for other modes of transportation?
State of origin information for U.S. exports by air and maritime modes can be obtained by request from the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. (http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/.) Currently, Census will not release data on the U.S. state of destination for imports for air and water modes.

Q34. Why is Mexican state of origin data not available?
Historically, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Border Protections established the data elements that were collected for imports. Under their regulations, data on the Mexican state of origin for U.S. imports from Mexico are not currently required. The RITA/BTS is working to ensure that more detailed state geography is included in the planning for the new federal database, the International Trade Data System. (ITDS) that is being developed and deployed over the next several years.

Q35. Why there is state unknown included in the dataset?
Although state geography is a required data element for international trade transactions, Customs and Census do receive   filings that do not contain such information. In addition, for paper documents, it may not be possible to accurately ascertain the state code. In such cases, when the state of origin code is missing or invalid, the shipment is entered as "state unknown". These types of shipments are represented with a code of "DU" in the North American Transborder Freight Data.

Q36. Why is data for Hawaii included in this dataset?
Although the North American Transborder Freight Data are intended to represent U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico by surface modes when a surface mode was used to enter or exit a U.S. land port, shippers (or their representatives) at times, may inaccurately report mode of transportation to the U.S. government. For example, a shipment between Hawaii and British Colombia, Canada would generally involve more than one mode of transportation (such as air and truck or maritime and rail). In filing the information to the government, the shipper may have reported the mode as truck because they knew a truck was involved in part of the transportation chain.

Q37. Should the U.S. state total for trade in a given year or month correspond to the sum of all the ports that are located in a particular state?
No. Specifically, this question asks, for example, if all the ports that are located on the Texas border can be taken as a sum to represent the total level of trade for the state of Texas. This cannot be done. This is because many of the border ports serve as national gateways. Therefore, not all the goods that cross the border at Laredo either originated in Texas or are destined for Texas. In 2001, for example, approximately 80 percent of the value of shipments by truck that crossed the border at Laredo had their origin or destination outside of Texas. State totals for trade can be based on the state of destination for imports and the state of origin for exports.

Q38. Does this dataset have metropolitan level data? If not, why not?
No. Currently, information on the flow of goods from the metropolitan point of origin to the port of exit (for exports) is not available. The state geographic data reported in the North American Transborder Freight Data represent the state of origin for exports, for example. The state of origin refers to the state from which the shipment starts its journey to the port of export. For many large agricultural and bulk shipments, the state often reflects the consolidation point or port of exit. The original intention of RITA/BTS and Census was to capture state of origin, that is, the state where the goods were grown, manufactured or otherwise produced. However, in practice, the state of origin information currently available in the dataset may or may not represent this type of origin. The state of origin may also represent the mailing address of the U.S. exporter, which may or may not be the actual physical state of origin. The state of origin may also represent the location of an intermediary such as a wholesaler, retailer, or distributor. Similar information on the metropolitan origin has historically not been collected by the U.S. government.

The only metropolitan data that was historically released as part of U.S. international trade statistics was for the exporter of record, and was based on the exporter's zip code. Based on this information, Census released an exporter-location or EL series at the metropolitan and state levels. Such data were released through December 2002. Two data tables in the North American Transborder Freight Data, use the exporter of record data. In the North American Transborder Freight Data, however, the level of geographic detail was at the level of a National Transportation Analysis Region (NTAR) rather than the metropolitan level. NTAR's refer to groupings of U.S. postal zip codes to denote certain geographic locations derived by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Census converts the reported zip codes to 89 NTAR areas. Census added this field in the April 1994 data to replace the U.S. region field. Beginning in January 2003, however, Census has discontinued the release of any data based on the exporter of record. The Exporter Location (EL) series has changed significantly since late 1999. An analysis of the locations reported by exporters in 2000 and 2001 as compared to 1999 has shown that most of the changes involve shipments reported electronically through the Automated Export System (AES). While AES has significantly improved the overall quality and coverage of the export data, it has changed filing practices, especially the addresses reported for multiple location companies. The exporter's location is based on the ZIP code in the exporter's address as reported on the Shipper's Export Declaration or its electronic equivalent. The Census Bureau is currently exploring whether it is possible to better define the address of each shipment in order to establish a stable EL state export series for the future.

Q39. Why isn't commodity information available at the port level?
Currently, port data, combined with commodity and other geographic information (such as state) cannot be released due to disclosure regulations, determined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Customers interested in only port data and commodity information can contact the Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division for information on products they have that might suit their needs. Contact information for the Foreign Trade Division Data Dissemination Branch can be found here: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/contacts/whowho.html#data_dissemination. Starting 2007, commodity by port at country level data are available online. Click here to query.

Q40. Where can I find information on port operations and delays?
CBP collects information on delays associated with primary and secondary inspections. The release of this information varies by Customs port. Contact information for all Customs ports is available http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/toolbox/ports/. In addition to Customs, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) at the U.S. Department of Transportation has a number of studies and projects underway to better understand and assess delays at the border. FHWA Office of Freight Management web site http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/ has information related to U.S./Canada and U.S/Mexico Border Transportation Planning.

Q41. Why is there no infrastructure information associated with land port?
The port codes used in U.S. international trade statistics, including the North American Transborder Freight Data, currently represent U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports. U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports are defined in Schedule D, which is available at http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/reference/codes/index.html#D. These port classifications correspond to CBP and port facilities rather than a specific piece of transportation infrastructure (such as a bridge or highway arterial). Therefore, for ports that has multiple bridges, such as Laredo, TX and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY, data at the bridge level cannot be reported from this dataset. The RITA/BTS is working to ensure that more detailed port geography is included in the port definitions for the new federal database, the International Trade Data System (ITDS) that is being developed and deployed over the next several years.

Q42. Why are inland ports included in the dataset?
Additional port detail was added to the dataset with the January 1997 data month. In addition, in January 1997, all ports that fall within Customs districts for the Canadian and Mexican border customs districts began to be fully captured. At the same time, some additional non-border or inland ports began to be identified separately. Non-border ports with low activity are still combined at their parent Customs district and reported by an 'XX' (i.e., '35XX').

  • Inland ports are included in this dataset for two reasons. One is due to the type of shipment (for example an inbound shipment) while the other reason is mainly due to differences in filing procedures. Inbound shipments are those, which are traveling under the care of bonded agencies inside the United States until the duties or taxes have been paid. The port of entry for an inbound shipment that is imported is considered the port where the inbound shipment is cleared by Customs (not the port of physical crossing as is supposed to be the case for non-inbound shipments.)
  • The other reason that inland ports are reported is due to current constraints with the level of port definitions. For imports, the port of entry is supposed to represent the Customs port where the entry documentation was filed with Customs and the duties paid. It may not always reflect the port where the shipment physically crossed the border into the United States. For exports, the port is supposed to represent the last Customs port cleared. Again, this may not always reflect the port where the shipment physically crossed the border from the United States into Canada or Mexico. In addition, with an increase in electronic filing, Census has seen an increase in the amount of inland ports identified as the port of entry or exit. These ports would then represent the port for the filing of the documentation, and not the physical crossing point.
  • New initiatives aimed at creating a one-stop filing source for international trade transactions for the federal government will improve the accuracy of the port field. This new system, the International Trade Data System (ITDS), will have multiple port fields, including the port of entry/exit, port of lading/unlading, port of clearance, and port of filing.

Q43. Why San Ysidro, CA is no longer included for truck activity?
The port of San Ysidro was closed to commercial truck traffic in 1994. Despite, the closure of San Ysidro to commercial truck activity in 1994, the Census Bureau continued to report data for San Ysidro through 1996. In addition, between 1994 and 1996, the Census Bureau suppressed data for traffic through the port of Otay Mesa (port 2506). Truck traffic through Otay Mesa was credited both to San Ysidro (port 2504) and to the San Diego Customs District (port 25XX). Unfortunately, it is not possible to correct previous years' data. Beginning in January 1997, all commercial truck traffic is credited to the port of Otay Mesa. Rail traffic is still credited to San Ysidro due its proximity to the physical rail network.

Q44. Where can I find more information about the sources and reliability for the North American Transborder Freight Data?
The Sources and Reliability statement for the North American Transborder Freight Data is available on our website at this address: http://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/. All customers are encouraged to review this document in detail, as well as the pertinent data documentation.

Q45. Where can I find more extensive data documentation for the North American Transborder Freight Data?
Extensive monthly data documentation for the North American Transborder Freight Data is available at http://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/. Customers are encouraged to review the appropriate documentation for the period of their interest. Until January 1997, older versions of the data documentation (called "read me" files) were also included in the downloadable compressed files for each month. These have not been updated. The most current and accurate information is available from the above URL. In addition to the monthly data documentation, customers are encouraged to review the Source and Reliability statement for the dataset, available at:http://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/.

Q46. What are the major reporting changes in the North American Transborder Freight Data?
Several significant reporting changes have occurred since the release of the first data month, April 1993. These are noted here, and also discussed in detail in the Sources and Reliability statement as well as the monthly data documentation.

  • January 2007: With release of 2007 data the following major changes were made
    The 8 land tables and 16 air and vessel tables were combined into the following three tables:
    U.S. Trade with Canada and Mexico with State and Port detail (Table 1)
    This table provides the origin or destination state of U.S exports and imports by port of entry or exit. For trade with Canada, the table provides Canadian province of origin or destination. For trade with Mexico the table provides Mexican state of destination for U.S. exports.
    U.S. Trade with Canada and Mexico with State and Commodity Detail (Table 2)
    This table provides the origin or destination state of U.S exports and imports by commodity. For trade with Canada, the table provides Canadian province of origin or destination. For trade with Mexico the table provides Mexican state of destination for U.S. exports.
    U.S. Trade with Canada and Mexico with Port and Commodity Detail (Table 3)
    This table provides U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico by commodity and U.S. port of entry or exit.
  • January 2004: with the release of 2004 data air and vessel modes were added. The following tables were added for air and vessel
    Exports to Mexico with State of Origin and 2-Digit Commodity Detail (Table AV1)
    Exports to Canada with State of Origin and 2-Digit Commodity Detail (Table AV2)
    Exports to Mexico with State of Origin and Port Geography Detail (Table AV3)
    Exports to Mexico with 2-Digit Commodity and Port Geography Detail (Table AV4)
    Exports to Canada with State of Origin and Port Geography Detail (Table AV5)
    Exports to Canada with Port Geography and 2-Digit Commodity Detail (Table AV6)
    Imports from Mexico with State of Destination and 2-Digit Commodity Detail (Table AV7)
    Imports from Canada with State of Destination and 2-Digit Commodity Detail (Table AV8)
    Imports from Mexico with Port Geography and State of Destination Detail (Table AV9)
    Imports from Mexico with Port Geography and 2-Digit Commodity Detail (Table AV10)
    Imports from Canada with Port Geography and State of Destination Detail (Table AV11)
    Imports from Canada with Port Geography and 2-Digit Commodity Detail (Table AV12).
  • January 2003 With the release of December 2002 statistics on February 20, 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau will discontinue the state export series based on the exporter location (EL). Beginning with January 2003 statistics, published in March 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau will compile and release state exports based only on the origin of movement (OM) series.Users should be cautious in interpreting previous data reported for the exporter location (EL) series and are advised that comparisons of 2000 and 2001 state totals to those of previous years may be misleading. The state export series based on the exporter's location, the EL series has changed significantly since late 1999. An analysis of the locations reported by exporters in 2000 and 2001 as compared to 1999 has shown that most of the changes involve shipments reported electronically through the Automated Export System (AES). AES, a joint effort of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Border Protection and the Census Bureau, was first implemented in 1995. The results of their analysis coincide with the surge in reporting through AES in late 1999 through 2001, when the former Automated Export Reporting Program (AERP) was discontinued and alternative ways of filing through AES were introduced.
    While AES has significantly improved the overall quality and coverage of the U.S. export data, it has changed filing practices, especially the addresses reported for multiple location companies. The exporter's location is based on the zip code in the exporter's address as reported on the Shipper's Export Declaration or its electronic equivalent. The Census Bureau is currently exploring whether it is possible to better define the address of each shipment in order to establish a stable EL state export series for the future. As a result of these changes, RITA/BTS can no longer provide four tables that have been released in prior years.
    Those tables are: 3B Exports to Mexico with State of Exporter and Commodity Detail,
    4B Exports to Canada with State of Exporter and Commodity Detail,
    5B Exports to Mexico with NTAR of Exporter and Geographic Detail,
    and 6B Exports to Canada with NTAR of Exporter and Geographic Detail.
  • January 1997 Transshipments from a third country through Canada or Mexico to the U.S. or from the U.S. to a third country through Canada or Mexico were removed from the dataset. A summary of transshipments is now presented by country, direction of trade, and mode of transportation for truck, rail, and all other (mail, pipeline, other, and FTZ). The deletion of these transshipments will allow for more comparability with other Census trade data (such as the "U.S. Exports of Merchandise" and "U.S. Imports of Merchandise" both on CD-Rom and the "FT920: U.S. Merchandise Trade: Selected Highlights"). Additional port detail was added. Canadian and Mexican border customs districts now include all public ports. In addition, some additional non-border or inland ports are now identified separately. Non-border ports with low activity are combined at their parent Customs district and reported by an "XX" (i.e., "35XX"). Due to increased geographic specificity, individual record counts were deleted from the dataset. A summary of record counts is now presented by country, direction of trade, and mode of transportation.
  • January 1996 Shipping weight for truck and rail shipments imported into the United States through Canada or Mexico from a third country (i.e. transshipments) was added. (Note: Beginning with the January 1997 data month, transshipment data were removed. (See January 1997 changes.))
  • April 1995 Shipping weight for Mexican imports was added. For U.S. exports to Canada, the cost of moving goods from the place of direct shipment in the U.S. to the consignee in Canada (data field, "Freight") was added. The mode of transport, "foreign trade zones", (or DISAGMOT 9) was added to the import tables. This new mode of transportation (MOT) category was added in recognition of the increased activity in foreign trade zones along the U.S./Mexican and U.S./Canadian borders. Although FTZ is being treated as a MOT in this dataset, the mode of transportation for a specific shipment into or out of a foreign trade zone is unknown because Customs does not collect this information.
  • April 1994 Increased commodity detail and geographic detail began to be reported together in a number of files.
    For exports, the 98 Schedule B 2-digit commodity groups replaced the previous 11 Schedule B Groups; the U.S. state of origin replaced the U.S. region of origin; the Canadian province and Mexican state of destination replaced Canadian and Mexican regions of destination; and the National Transportation Analysis Region (NTAR) of the U.S. exporter was added.
    For imports, the 98 2-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (TSUSA) commodity groups replaced the 11 TSUSA groups; the Canadian province of origin replaced the Canadian region of origin; and the U.S. state of destination replaced the U.S. region of destination. (Note: At the 2-digit level the commodities of Schedule B and TSUSA are the same.)

Q47. What formats are available for accessing the North American Transborder Freight Data?
The North American Transborder Freight Data is offered to customers in a wide variety of formats on the RITA/BTS website at www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/. Monthly data can be obtained in downloadable detailed files or in monthly summary reports. The downloadable data files are zipped files (to size) and can be unzipped and opened on a customer's local computer in a variety of database or spreadsheet software applications. In addition to these formats, RITA/BTS also provides access to the data through interactive searchable queries. Currently 14 are available, and allow users to specify specific parameters of search initiate a search and receive back a data file that can be viewed online and then downloaded to the customer's personal computer. The searchable databases are available at http://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html. In addition to this format, the most popular access option is the summarized and aggregated annual report tables that are available at the national, state and port levels. These are available at http://www.bts.gov/ntda/tbscd/reports.html.

Q48. Why is this dataset only available online?
Because of the desire to offer the highest level of timeliness to customers, RITA/BTS only releases the monthly and annual North American Transborder Freight Data online. Analyses that incorporate North American Transborder Freight Data (such as the North American Trade and Travel Trends and U.S. International Trade and Freight Transportation Trends reports) may be available in hardcopy as well as online. Hardcopies can be ordered from the RITA/BTS Info Services at 800-853-1351 or https://ntl.custhelp.com/app/ask.

Q49. What are the U.S. Transborder Data and Other International Data Compiled by Canada and Mexico?
Official U.S. international trade statistics may differ from similar data reported by other countries. For example, the U.S. government may report U.S. exports to Mexico for a specific amount. The Mexican government may report a different number for Mexican imports from the United States. In theory, these figures should be quite comparable. Depending on the trade partner they may be. However, differences do occur at both the aggregate and detailed levels of trade (for example, at the commodity or modal level). These differences occur due to the different types of processing, quality assurance, editing and validation that each country may perform on its data once it is reported to the government. An example of one specific difference is with shipments of a "low-value". The United States does not require that information be filed on imports or exports below a defined level (for example, less than $2,500 for exports). In contrast, some countries record all transactions regardless of value. Another difference may be how each government determines country of origin for commodities. For example, prior to May 2001, Mexican import documents, used by Mexican Customs, only allowed the reporting of one country of origin. If there was more than one country of origin the total value was attributed to the country with the largest value.

The United States and Canada have less trade reconciliation problems than other countries. This is because the United States and Canada initiated a trade data exchange in 1987. Under this agreement, each country only collects import data, and then exchanges with the other country on a monthly basis to create each country's export figures. Thus, at the national level, official international trade statistics reported by the Canadian and U.S. governments will generally agree. However, there are still reconciliation levels at the detailed level (for example, port, state or mode) because of reporting differences or differing verification procedures. For more information on the trade data reconciliation issues for North America, please visit the Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division's website for the full report on "Merchandise Trade Reconciliation U.S.-Canada-Mexico" here: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/index.html

Q50. Which are the Canadian and Mexican Government Agencies that are Responsible for NAFTA Trade Statistics?
For Canada, the International Trade Division of Statistics Canada is the main source of Customs-based trade data. More information on Statistics Canada is available at http://www.statcan.ca/start.html Transport Canada, in particular the Economic Analysis Directorate, also conducts a variety of trade and transportation analyses based on administrative (Customs) statistics from Statistics Canada as well as a number of carrier-based sources. More information on Transport Canada is available at http://www.tc.gc.ca/.
For Mexico, there are a number of sources for international trade and transportation data. The two main sources of Customs-based trade data are the Bank of Mexico and Mexico's national statistical agency, INEGI - Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Geografia e Infomatica: http://www.inegi.gob.mx/. In addition, the transportation agencies in the Mexican government obtain carrier-based information and conduct a wide variety of trade and transportation analyses. This includes the Mexican Department of Transportation, or Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (http://www.sct.gob.mx/) as well as the Instituto Mexicano del Transporte (http://www.imt.mx/)

Q51. What are the Modes of Transportation and why is there a Lack of Intermodal Information?
For land trade, the filing requirements indicate that the mode of transportation is to be recorded as the method of transportation in use when the shipment enters or departs the United States. Thus, if a shipment was sent from Kansas City to the Port of Laredo for export and went via rail from Kansas City to Dallas and then was shifted to truck and arrived and crossed the U.S.-Mexico border by truck, it is supposed to be reported as a truck shipment.
By nature of the activity, many international trade shipments involve more than one mode. However, due to the way international trade statistics are currently defined and collected, it is not possible to report on the modes of transportation used throughout the entire journey of the shipment from the foreign point of origin to the final destination in the United States (as an example, for imports). Thus, the mode in the North American Transborder Freight Data is supposed to represent the mode by which they enter or exit the United States.

Q52. What are Foreign Trade Zones and Definition as a Mode?
Foreign-trade zones are designated sites licensed by the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board (the Secretary of Commerce is Chairperson) at which special Customs procedures may be used. FTZ procedures allow domestic processing involving foreign items to take place in approved FTZ zones. The goods are then treated as if they were outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection territory, thus offsetting Customs advantages available to overseas producers.
In April 1995, as the result of inquiries from users, the mode of transport, 'foreign trade zones' was added after a Census Bureau investigation. Although FTZ is being treated as a mode of transportation in this dataset, the actual mode for a specific shipment into or out of a foreign trade zone is unknown because the Customs and Border Protection Services (CBP) does not collect this information.

Q53. Why is there a lack of Weight Data for Export Shipments?
The weight of U.S. exports by land modes of transportation is not available because this data is not required to be reported on the paper Shipper's Export Declarations (SEDs) documents that are required by the U.S. Census Bureau. Currently 20-25 percent of export filings are still reported on paper. The new electronic filing system for exports, the Automated Export System or AES does require that export weight be filed for all modes of transportation. Once the level of paper filings is reduced and AES filings increase, particularly on the U.S.-Mexican border, RITA/BTS hopes to work with Census to add weight data for the U.S. exports by land modes of transportation. In the meantime, some customers use value to weight ratios for imports, and apply these to develop some crude approximations of export weight. In the meantime RITA/BTS uses value to weight ratio of U.S. imports at two digit commodity code to calculate the export weights. Although the export weights are not published as tables RITA/BTS uses these numbers for U.S. Transborder data annual research publications.