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Severe weather impacted January 2014 U.S.-Canada freight flows

Press Release Number: 
BTS 16-14
Date: 
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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Figure 1.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: 
January 2013 - January 2014

Table Version | Excel

Figure 1.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode:   January 2013 - January 2014

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data
Note: Truck percent change in value is 0.014 percent.

Severe weather in January impacted freight transportation, contributing to a decline in U.S.-Canada trade for the month.  Freight moving across the northern border in January 2014 was down 3.4 percent from January 2013, the first decline from the same month of the previous year since June 2013 and the largest year-to-year decline since November 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Trade using truck, the largest mode, declined 4.9 percent while rail dropped 9.9 percent.  Air trade also declined while pipeline and vessel increased (Table 4).

With less weather impact along the southern border, U.S.-México trade rose 3.9 percent from January 2013, the seventh consecutive increase from the same month of the previous year.  Trade using the three surface transportation modes – truck, rail and pipeline – rose a combined 5.4 percent from the previous year while trade using air and vessels declined (Table 6).

Total U.S.-NAFTA trade declined 0.2 percent from January 2013 in the face of the weather impact on the northern border.  It was the first year-to-year decline since June 2013.  Trade using rail and air declined. With the rise in trade by truck with Mexico offsetting the trucking decline with Canada, total U.S.-NAFTA truck trade was virtually unchanged.  Pipeline and vessel trade rose (Table 2).

Trade by Mode
Truck, which carries nearly 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, was essentially unchanged year-to-year while rail declined 4.2 percent. Vessel rose 0.6 percent and air declined 1.2 percent (Figure 1).

Trucks carried 59.5 percent of the $90.3 billion of U.S.-NAFTA trade in January 2014 accounting for $28.0 billion of exports and $25.7 billion of imports. While the value of freight carried by rail decreased from year-to-year, rail was still the second largest mode, at 13.7 percent, followed by vessels at 9.8 percent, pipeline at 8.4 percent and air at 3.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.5 percent of the total NAFTA freight flows (Table 2).

Trade with Canada
Year-to-year, the value of U.S.-Canada trade by vessel increased the most of any mode, growing 3.7 percent.  Vessel freight exports to Canada increased 64.8 percent due to an increase in exports of mineral fuels.  U.S.-Canada trade by pipeline increased by 1.9 percent.   U.S.-Canada pipeline trade comprised 95.1 percent of total U.S.-NAFTA pipeline trade in January (Tables 2, 4).

For trade with Canada in January, trucks carried 52.2 percent of the $49.3 billion of freight, followed by rail at 15.1 percent, pipeline at 14.6 percent, vessel at 7.2 percent and air at 4.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.0 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows (Table 4).

Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode:
January 2013 - January 2014

Table Version | Excel

Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: January 2013 - January 2014

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

Trade with Mexico
Year-to-year, the value of trade by pipeline increased the most of any mode, growing 30.6 percent, but pipeline trade remained less than 1 percent of total U.S.-Mexico trade (Table 6).  Trade using rail rose 5.9 percent while truck freight increased 5.0 percent. Freight moved by vessel and air decreased by 5.4 percent and 0.4 percent respectively (Figure 3).   

For trade with Mexico in January, trucks carried 68.1 percent of the $41.1 billion of freight, followed by vessel at 13.2 percent, rail at 12.0 percent, air at 2.9 percent and pipelines at 0.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.0 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 6).

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode:
January 2013 - January 2014

Table Version | Excel

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: January 2013 - January 2014

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

Commodities
In January 2014, the top commodity group transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, of which $7.2 billion, or 56.5 percent, moved by pipeline (Table 5). The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in January 2014 was electrical machinery, of which $6.7 billion, or 91.5 percent, moved by truck (Table 7). 

Reporting Notes
Beginning with January 2013, BTS monthly TransBorder press releases contain data for all modes of transportation. 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 adjusted for inflation. Additional summary data adjusted for inflation and exchange rates can be found on the BTS website under TransBorder Indexed Freight Flow Data. The BLS indexes used in the adjustments for inflation and exchange rates may be revised in each of the three months after original publication. For more information, see TransBorder Press Releases  for previous press releases and summary tables. See TransBorder Freight Data for data from previous months, and more state, port, or commodity data.  BTS has scheduled the release of February TransBorder numbers for April 24.

 

Table 1. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows

(millions of current dollars)

Month 2012 2013 2014 Percent Change 2012-2013 Percent Change 2013-2014
January 87,490 90,512 90,326 3.5 -0.2
February 89,385 88,449   -1.0  
March 99,510 95,566   -4.0  
April 92,199 98,984   7.4  
May 96,840 98,577   1.8  
June 94,200 93,483   -0.8  
July 87,691 93,192   6.3  
August 94,593 96,526   2.0  
September 89,875 94,350   5.0  
October 98,632 103,089   4.5  
November 94,877 96,120   1.3  
December 84,695 90,083   6.4  
Annual 1,109,988 1,138,931   2.6  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Note: Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding. Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 2. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   January 2013 January 2014 Percent Change January 2013-2014
All Modes Imports 49,513 48,611 -1.8
Exports 40,999 41,715 1.7
Total 90,512 90,326 -0.2
All Surface Modes Imports 40,547 40,287 -0.6
Exports 33,417 33,369 -0.1
Total 73,965 73,656 -0.4
Truck Imports 25,684 25,683 0.0
Exports 28,014 28,022 0.0
Total 53,698 53,705 0.0
Rail Imports 8,386 8,045 -4.1
Exports 4,518 4,321 -4.4
Total 12,904 12,366 -4.2
Pipeline Imports 6,478 6,559 1.2
Exports 885 1,027 16.0
Total 7,363 7,585 3.0
Vessel Imports 5,809 5,203 -10.4
Exports 3,020 3,683 21.9
Total 8,830 8,886 0.6
Air Imports 1,497 1,398 -6.6
Exports 1,955 2,014 3.0
Total 3,453 3,413 -1.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

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_DataFields.html.

 

Table 3. Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode

January 2014 Compared to January in… Percent Change
Truck Rail Pipeline Air Vessel All Modes
2013 0.0 -4.2 3.0 -1.2 0.6 -0.2
2012 3.0 0.4 2.1 0.3 3.9 3.2
2011 15.1 11.5 21.4 0.6 4.7 13.5
2010 39.0 26.6 41.3 3.3 51.0 37.1
2009 58.5 91.0 81.7 21.8 118.7 66.3
2008 21.0 18.3 18.1 2.0 25.6 19.5
2007 26.1 24.9 65.2 23.0 82.0 32.2
2006 29.7 17.8 31.0 27.8 61.4 30.2
2005 46.7 48.4 78.7 38.2 134.1 54.1
2004 66.7 63.2 133.6 33.1 193.1 76.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Note: Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding. Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 4. Value of Monthly U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   January 2013 January 2014 Percent Change January 2013-2014
All Modes Imports 27,963 26,707 -4.5
Exports 23,049 22,568 -2.1
Total 51,013 49,276 -3.4
All Surface Modes Imports 23,570 22,600 -4.1
Exports 18,822 17,789 -5.5
Total 42,392 40,388 -4.7
Truck Imports 11,294 10,782 -4.5
Exports 15,774 14,962 -5.1
Total 27,068 25,744 -4.9
Rail Imports 5,816 5,277 -9.3
Exports 2,431 2,155 -11.3
Total 8,247 7,433 -9.9
Pipeline Imports 6,460 6,541 1.2
Exports 617 671 8.7
Total 7,078 7,212 1.9
Vessel Imports 2,472 1,990 -19.5
Exports 937 1,545 64.8
Total 3,409 3,534 3.7
Air Imports 950 827 -13.0
Exports 1,504 1,510 0.4
Total 2,454 2,337 -4.8

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

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_DataFields.html.

 

Table 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, January 2014

(millions of current dollars)

Mode Commodities Exports Imports Total
All Modes Mineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes 2,596 10,113 12,709
Truck Vehicles Other than Railway 2,420 1,841 4,261
Rail Vehicles Other than Railway 466 1,723 2,189
Pipeline Mineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes 670 6,515 7,184
Vessel Mineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes 1,450 1,702 3,152
Air Electrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts 317 159 476

Source: Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Note: Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.

 

Table 6. Value of Monthly U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   January 2013 January 2014 Percent Change January 2013-2014
All Modes Imports 21,550 21,903 1.6
Exports 17,949 19,147 6.7
Total 39,499 41,050 3.9
All Surface Modes Imports 16,977 17,687 4.2
Exports 14,595 15,581 6.8
Total 31,573 33,268 5.4
Truck Imports 14,389 14,902 3.6
Exports 12,241 13,060 6.7
Total 26,630 27,962 5.0
Rail Imports 2,570 2,768 7.7
Exports 2,087 2,165 3.8
Total 4,657 4,933 5.9
Pipeline Imports 18 18 0.5
Exports 268 355 32.6
Total 286 373 30.6
Vessel Imports 3,600 3,279 -8.9
Exports 2,129 2,140 0.5
Total 5,730 5,419 -5.4
Air Imports 604 510 -15.6
Exports 602 692 14.9
Total 1,207 1,202 -0.4

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

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_DataFields.html.

 

Table 7. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, January 2014

(millions of current dollars)

Mode Commodities Exports Imports Total
All Modes Electrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts 3,177 4,134 7,311
Truck Electrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts 2,855 3,835 6,690
Rail Vehicles Other than Railway 438 2,022 2,460
Pipeline Mineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes 355 18 373
Vessel Mineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes 1,284 2,863 4,146
Air Electrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts 253 162 416

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Note: Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.