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March 2014 North American Freight Numbers

Press Release Number: 
BTS 26-14
Date: 
Thursday, May 29, 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: 
March 2013 - March 2014

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

U.S.-NAFTA trade totaled $101.5 billion in March 2014, the second highest amount on record, as four of five transportation modes – air, vessel, pipeline, and trucks – carried more U.S.-NAFTA trade than in March 2013, according to the TransBorder freight data released today by theU.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1, Table 2).

The March 2014 trade total, a 6.2 percent increase from March 2013, was exceeded only by trade value in October 2013. U.S-NAFTA trade has increased from the same month of the previous year in eight of the last nine months, interrupted by a 0.2 percent decrease in January.  The January decline reflected the severe weather in the northern states and along the U.S.-Canada border.

Trade by Mode
In March, commodities moving by pipeline grew the most of any mode, 25.2 percent. Vessel freight increased 9.9 percent, air rose 6.7 percent and truck freight rose 6.3 percent. Rail declined 5.2 percent from year to year (Figure 1, Table 2). The increase in the value of freight carried by pipelines reflects both a rise in the volume and prices for oil and other petroleum products, the primary commodity transported by pipelines.

Trucks carry nearly three-fifths of U.S.-NAFTA trade and are the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks carried 60.1 percent of U.S.-NAFTA trade in March 2014, accounting for $31.2 billion of exports and $29.8 billion of imports.  

Although the value of freight carried by rail decreased from year to year, rail remained the second largest mode moving 14.8 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA trade, followed by vessel at 8.4 percent, pipeline at 8.2 percent and air at 3.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.1 percent of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows (Table 2).

Trade with Canada
Year-to-year, the value of U.S.-Canada trade by pipeline increased the most of any mode, growing 25.2 percent. U.S.-Canada pipeline trade comprised 94.9 percent of total U.S.-NAFTA pipeline trade in March. Vessel freight exports to Canada increased 105.3 percent due to an increase in exports of mineral fuels, a larger percentage increase than the 95.5 percent rise in exports by pipeline. Mineral fuel exports by vessel to Canada in March were valued at $1.15 billion, 2.1 percent more than the $1.12 billion transported by pipeline.

With a 7.5 percent decline in imports, overall vessel trade rose 19.9 percent. Trade using trucks rose by 2.7 percent while air freight grew 2.5 percent. U.S.-Canada trade by rail declined 10.5 percent, with a 15.0 percent fall in imports, due in part to a decrease in trade of vehicles and parts (Figure 2, Tables 2, 4).

Trucks carried 54.3 percent of the $56.6 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail at 15.4 percent, pipeline at 14.0 percent, vessel at 5.3 percent and air at 4.4 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.7 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:
March 2013 - March 2014

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data
NOTE: percent change were 0.029 and 0.053 percent, respectively.

Trade with Mexico
With U.S.-Mexico trade more dependent on trucks than trade on the northern border, a 10.2 percent rise in truck freight fueled the overall 8.8 percent increase in southern border trade. Shipments by truck comprised 77.4 percent of the dollar value of the overall increase. For exports, a 14.1 percent increase in shipments using trucks made up 86.0 percent of the overall 10.7 percent increase.

Year-to-year, the value of trade by pipeline increased the most of any mode, growing 25.7 percent, but pipeline trade remained less than 1 percent of total U.S.-Mexico trade and the smallest of the modes based on value (Table 6).  In addition to the 10.2 percent rise in trade using trucks, rail freight rose 3.3 percent.  Air freight rose 16.1 percent while freight moved by vessel rose 5.1 percent (Figure 3).   

Trucks carried 67.4 percent of the $44.9 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail at 14.0 percent, vessel at 12.2 percent, air at 2.9 percent and pipeline at 0.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.3 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:
March 2013 - March 2014

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

Commodities
In March 2014, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, of which $7.9 billion, or 61.6 percent, moved by pipeline (Table 5). The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in March 2014 was electrical machinery, of which $7.2 billion, or 91.3 percent, moved by trucks (Table 7). 

Reporting Notes
Beginning with February 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 April TransBorder numbers for June 26.

 

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 89,557 -1.0 1.3
March 99,510 95,566 101,478 -4.0 6.2
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   March 2013 March 2014 Percent Change March 2013-2014
All Modes Imports 51,542 54,381 5.5
Exports 44,024 47,097 7.0
Total 95,566 101,478 6.2
All Surface Modes Imports 43,845 45,980 4.9
Exports 35,954 38,308 6.5
Total 79,799 84,287 5.6
Truck Imports 27,711 29,758 7.4
Exports 29,619 31,201 5.3
Total 57,330 60,959 6.3
Rail Imports 10,377 9,429 -9.1
Exports 5,438 5,566 2.4
Total 15,815 14,995 -5.2
Pipeline Imports 5,757 6,793 18.0
Exports 897 1,541 71.8
Total 6,654 8,334 25.2
Vessel Imports 4,608 4,928 6.9
Exports 3,142 3,590 14.3
Total 7,750 8,518 9.9
Air Imports 1,432 1,601 11.8
Exports 2,089 2,158 3.3
Total 3,521 3,759 6.7

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

March 2014 Compared to March in... Percent Change
Truck Rail Pipeline Air Vessel All Modes
2013 6.3 -5.2 25.2 6.7 9.9 6.2
2012 2.0 2.3 14.3 -4.6 -12.6 2.0
2011 7.8 13.8 24.7 -9.3 -8.0 7.7
2010 24.5 25.0 43.2 2.6 24.0 26.1
2009 62.0 103.8 161.0 9.1 119.6 73.8
2008 29.2 21.5 13.7 5.6 18.1 24.4
2007 24.1 20.1 81.8 16.3 44.1 28.6
2006 26.0 29.0 75.6 12.8 54.5 31.7
2005 44.2 45.8 113.2 27.4 93.2 51.9
2004 49.1 54.1 187.4 29.4 137.5 61.7

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   March 2013 March 2014 Percent Change March 2013-2014
All Modes Imports 28,299 29,426 4.0
Exports 26,044 27,200 4.4
Total 54,343 56,626 4.2
All Surface Modes Imports 24,258 25,207 3.9
Exports 21,716 22,161 2.0
Total 45,975 47,369 3.0
Truck Imports 11,983 12,871 7.4
Exports 17,944 17,877 -0.4
Total 29,927 30,747 2.7
Rail Imports 6,538 5,559 -15.0
Exports 3,194 3,154 -1.3
Total 9,732 8,713 -10.5
Pipeline Imports 5,737 6,777 18.1
Exports 578 1,131 95.5
Total 6,315 7,908 25.2
Vessel Imports 1,913 1,770 -7.5
Exports 614 1,260 105.3
Total 2,526 3,029 19.9
Air Imports 901 990 10.0
Exports 1,514 1,484 -2.0
Total 2,415 2,474 2.5

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, March 2014

(millions of current dollars)

Mode Commodities Exports Imports Total
All Modes Mineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes 2,916 9,874 12,790
Truck Vehicles Other than Railway 3,373 2,658 6,031
Rail Vehicles Other than Railway 1,069 1,902 2,971
Pipeline Mineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes 1,122 6,763 7,885
Vessel Mineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes 1,146 1,559 2,705
Air Electrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts 358 151 509

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   March 2013 March 2014 Percent Change March 2013-2014
All Modes Imports 23,243 24,956 7.4
Exports 17,980 19,897 10.7
Total 41,224 44,853 8.8
All Surface Modes Imports 19,587 20,772 6.1
Exports 14,238 16,147 13.4
Total 33,824 36,919 9.1
Truck Imports 15,728 16,887 7.4
Exports 11,675 13,324 14.1
Total 27,403 30,211 10.2
Rail Imports 3,838 3,869 0.8
Exports 2,244 2,413 7.5
Total 6,083 6,282 3.3
Pipeline Imports 20 16 -21.7
Exports 319 410 28.7
Total 339 426 25.7
Vessel Imports 2,695 3,159 17.2
Exports 2,528 2,331 -7.8
Total 5,223 5,489 5.1
Air Imports 531 610 14.9
Exports 575 674 17.2
Total 1,106 1,284 16.1

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, March 2014

(millions of current dollars)

Mode Commodities Exports Imports Total
All Modes Electrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts 3,136 4,740 7,876
Truck Electrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts 2,777 4,414 7,191
Rail Vehicles Other than Railway 565 2,905 3,469
Pipeline Mineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes 410 16 426
Vessel Mineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes 1,413 2,500 3,913
Air Electrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts 251 182 434

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

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