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U.S. Freight Shipments with Canada and Mexico Reached a Record High in 2006

U.S. Freight Shipments with Canada and Mexico Reached a Record High in 2006

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BTS 54-07
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Monday, November 19, 2007 - Goods valued at more than $866 billion crossed the U.S. border in trade with Canada and Mexico in 2006, 9.7 percent higher than the previous record set in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, released the data today as part of the third annual update of the North American Transportation Statistics (NATS) online database.

Freight weighing nearly 475 million tons was transported through U.S. land borders, airports, and seaports to and from locations in Canada and Mexico in 2006.

U.S. merchandise trade with Canada and Mexico , its two largest trading partners, rose by more than $252 billion or by 41.1 percent between 2001 and 2006 (See Table).

This third annual update of the NATS database contains the most comparable transportation-related data available from the United States , Canada , and Mexico in a one-stop online resource. The NATS database is co-sponsored by BTS and the U.S. Census Bureau with the federal-level transportation and statistical agencies of Canada and Mexico .

The value of freight shipments moving between the United States , Canada and Mexico grew at an average rate of nearly 7.1 percent per year between 2001 and 2006. The total value of U.S. freight shipments with Mexico grew 42.7 percent or 7.4 percent annually. Goods shipped in trade with Canada grew 40.2 percent or 7.1 percent annually.

Trucks carried 62 percent of this freight measured by value - $534 billion in 2006. Rail carried 15 percent, followed by maritime with 8 percent, pipeline with 7 percent, and air with 4 percent. Trucks saw the largest modal increase in shipment value from 2005 to 2006 - $43 billion, followed by rail (up $12 billion), and maritime (up $12 billion).

New data in the NATS database shows America 's top gateways for trade with Canada and Mexico . In 2006, Detroit was the top road gateway with $115 billion in international road shipments passing through that gateway (Table 2).

A product of the North American Transportation Statistics Interchange established in 1991, the NATS database provides three-country comparative information on transportation activity and its impact. It covers the following subject areas: country overview, transportation and the economy, transportation safety, transportation's impact on energy and the environment, domestic freight activity, North American merchandise trade, international merchandise trade, domestic passenger travel, North American passenger travel, international passenger travel, transportation infrastructure, and vehicles.

With text available in English, French, and Spanish, the NATS database can be found at http://nats.sct.gob.mx/

Table 1. U.S. Merchandise Trade with Canada and Mexico by Freight Transportation Mode

(Billions of current dollars)

Excel | CSV

  2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Percent change, '01 - '06 Annual growth rate (%)'01 - '06
Total trade with Canada and Mexico 614 604 629 712 790 866 41.1 7.1
Air 37 30 28 32 33 36 -3.0 -0.6
Pipeline 26 23 32 38 52 57 115.0 16.5
Rail 93 92 96 108 116 129 39.1 6.8
Road 395 398 404 453 491 534 35.0 6.2
Water transport 29 33 38 46 58 70 138.9 19.0
Total: percent change from previous year 2001-2006 -6.8 -1.4 4.2 13.1 10.9 9.7 - -
Total trade with Canada 381 371 394 445 499 534 40.2 7.0
Air 25 21 20 23 23 24 -2.3 -0.5
Pipeline 26 22 32 38 51 56 114.5 16.5
Rail 60 61 65 75 80 86 42.5 7.3
Road 235 236 241 269 295 314 33.8 6.0
Water transport 9 9 11 14 18 21 129.7 18.1
Total: percent change from previous year 2001-2006 -7.3 -2.2 6 13 12.2 6.9 - -
Total trade with Mexico 233 232 236 267 290 322 42.7 7.4
Air 12 9 8 9 10 11 -4.3 -0.9
Pipeline 0.3 0.6 0.2 0.1 0.5 0.8 156.0 20.7
Rail 32 31 31 34 37 43 32.9 5.9
Road 161 162 163 184 196 219 36.6 6.4
Water transport 20 23 27 32 40 49 143.1 19.4
Total: percent change from previous year, 2001-2006 -5.9 -0.2 1.4 13 8.9 14.5 - -

NOTE: Individual modes do not sum to total trade figures because the total excludes freight moved by "other modes" such as aircraft from manufacturer to customers, pedestrians carrying freight, and miscellaneous.

NOTE: Due to the rounding of certain numbers tabulated, sum totals of U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico trade vary slightly.

SOURCE: North American Transportation Statistics Online Database. Available at http://nats.sct.gob.mx/nats, November 2007.

Table 2. Top 10 U.S. Gateways Trading with Canada and Mexico by Road

Ranked by 2006 Road Trade Value

(millions of dollars)

Excel | CSV

Rank Gateway 2006
1 Detroit, MI 115,108
2 Laredo, TX 78,502
3 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 58,855
4 El Paso, TX 42,237
5 Port Huron, MI 37,526
6 Otay Mesa, CA 28,597
7 Hidalgo-Pharr, TX 19,941
8 Champlain-Rouses Point, NY 16,532
9 Pembina, ND 13,674
10 Blaine, WA 13,570

SOURCE: North American Transportation Statistics Online Database http://nats.sct.gob.mx/nats