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March 2012 Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico Highest on Record Exceeding $85 Billion for First Time

March 2012 Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico Highest on Record Exceeding $85 Billion for First Time

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Dave Smallen
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North American Surface Trade, Five Years: April 2007-March 2012 (Figure 1)

Table Version | Excel | CSV

North American Surface Trade, Five Years: April 2007-March 2012 (Figure 1).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, Canada and Mexico, was 6.2 percent higher in March 2012 than in March 2011, totaling $85.8 billion (Table 1), according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the U.S. Department of Transportation.  March 2012 was the highest month for NATFA trade value since collection of data began in 1994, exceeding $85 billion for the first time and topping the previous record of $80.8 billion in March 2011.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the March 2012 value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico rose 21.2 percent from March 2008, early in the recession, and 68.1 percent from March 2009, late in the recession (Table 3). Numbers in the press release are not adjusted for inflation.

The value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico in March increased by 88.2 percent compared to March 2002, a period of 10 years. Imports in March were up 76.1 percent since March 2002, while exports were up 104.5 percent (Table 3). See Transborder Press Releases for historical data.

Surface transportation includes freight movements by truck, rail, pipeline, mail, Foreign Trade Zones, and other modes of transport.  In March, 86.2 percent of U.S. trade by value with Canada and Mexico moved via land, 9.8 percent moved by vessel, and 4.0 percent moved by air (Figure 2).

North American Freight by Mode, March 2012 (Figure 2)

Table Version | Excel | CSV

North American Freight by Mode, March 2012 (Figure 2).

The value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico increased 9.8 percent in March 2012 from February 2012 (Table 2). Month-to-month changes can be affected by seasonal variations and other factors.

U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico surface transportation trade in March 2012 both increased compared to March 2011 with U.S.-Canada trade reaching $50.1 billion, a 2.9 percent increase, and U.S.-Mexico trade reaching $35.7 billion, an 11.2 percent increase. For trade statistics by mode, see Table 4 for Canada and Table 6 for Mexico.

In March, Michigan led all states in surface trade with Canada as it has in previous years, at $6.3 billion, a 3.0 percent increase from March 2011 (Table 5). Of the top 10 states by value, Illinois had the largest percentage increase over March 2011, at 16.5 percent.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada by surface modes of transportation in March was vehicles (other than railway), valued at $9.6 billion (Table 8).

Texas also continued to lead all states in surface trade with Mexico at $12.6 billion, a 11.5 percent increase from March 2011 (Table 7).  This is the highest monthly level of trading by any state with Mexico and the first time on record that any state has had more than $12 billion of monthly trade with Mexico.  Of the top 10 states by value, Tennessee had the biggest percentage increase, 26.3 percent.  The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico by surface modes of transportation in March was electrical machinery with $7.6 billion in trade (Table 9).

For more information, see Transborder Press Releases for previous' press releases and summary tables. See TransBorder Freight Data for data from previous months, and individual state data.  BTS has scheduled release of April TransBorder numbers for June 26.

Table 1. Value of Monthly U.S. Surface Transportation Trade with Canada and Mexico

(millions of dollars)

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Month 2010 2011 2012 Percent Change 2010-2011 Percent Change 2011-2012
January 56,697 67,734 75,534 19.5 11.5
February 59,492 66,534 78,135 11.8 17.4
March 69,943 80,822 85,827 15.6 6.2
April 65,831 73,767 12.1    
May 66,805 77,318 15.7    
June 69,859 77,521 11.0    
July 61,260 72,363 18.1    
August 67,964 80,406 18.3    
September 68,324 77,725 13.8    
October 70,565 79,040 12.0    
November 68,060 76,672 12.7    
December 66,530 74,230 11.6    
Year-to-date 186,132 215,090 239,496 15.6 11.3
Annual 791,329 904,133 14.3    

SOURCE: BTS TransBorder Freight Data, http://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/

NOTE: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 2. U.S. Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico by Surface Modes of Transportation

(millions of dollars)

Excel | CSV

Mode   March 2011 February 2012 March 2012 Percent Change February 2012 - March 2012 Percent Change March 2011 - 2012
All Surface Modes Imports 43,409 42,198 46,132 9.3 6.3
Exports 37,413 35,937 39,695 10.5 6.1
Total 80,822 78,135 85,827 9.8 6.2
Truck Imports 27,489 26,087 28,932 10.9 5.3
Exports 29,036 27,491 30,826 12.1 6.2
Rail Imports 8,358 8,668 9,352 7.9 11.9
Exports 4,817 4,751 5,313 11.8 10.3
Pipeline Imports 5,954 6,032 6,400 6.1 7.5
Exports 729 1,144 889 -22.2 22.0

SOURCE: BTS TransBorder Freight Data, http://www.bts.gov/programs/international/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 surface modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail and pipeline 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://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html

Table 3. March 2012 Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico Compared with March of Prior Years

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Compared to March in... Percent Change
Imports Exports Total Surface Trade
2011 6.3 6.1 6.2
2010 21.4 24.3 22.7
2009 69.8 66.2 68.1
2008 15.1 29.3 21.2
2007 15.6 33.0 23.0
2006 20.0 33.3 25.8
2005 37.2 53.8 44.4
2004 44.1 63.7 52.5
2003 60.8 92.0 73.9
2002 76.1 104.5 88.2

SOURCE: BTS TransBorder Freight Data, http://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/

Table 4. U.S. Merchandise Trade with Canada by Surface Modes of Transportation

(millions of dollars)

Excel | CSV

Mode   March 2011 February 2012 March 2012 Percent Change February 2012 - March 2012 Percent Change March 2011 - 2012
All Surface Modes Imports 25,379 23,950 25,963 8.4 2.3
Exports 23,343 21,489 24,161 12.4 3.5
Total 48,722 45,440 50,124 10.3 2.9
Truck Imports 12,493 11,193 12,271 9.6 -1.8
Exports 18,077 16,124 18,620 15.5 3.0
Rail Imports 5,722 5,696 6,199 8.8 8.3
Exports 2,692 2,581 2,939 13.9 9.2
Pipeline Imports 5,936 6,015 6,376 6.0 7.4
Exports 400 807 574 -28.8 43.5

SOURCE: BTS TransBorder Freight Data, http://www.bts.gov/programs/international/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 surface modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail and pipeline 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://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html

Table 5. Top 10 States Trading with Canada by All Surface Modes of Transportation

Ranked by March 2012 Surface Trade Value

(millions of dollars)

Excel | CSV

State March 2011 March 2012 Percent Change March 2011-2012
Value Rank Value Rank
Michigan 6,118 1 6,300 1 3.0
Illinois 4,720 2 5,500 2 16.5
California 2,889 5 3,199 3 10.7
Ohio 3,321 3 3,019 4 -9.1
Texas 2,651 6 2,947 5 11.1
New York 2,936 4 2,452 6 -16.5
Pennsylvania 1,838 7 1,932 7 5.1
Indiana 1,661 9 1,739 8 4.7
Washington 1,817 8 1,671 9 -8.0
Minnesota 1,449 10 1,508 10 4.1

SOURCE: BTS TransBorder Freight Data, http://www.bts.gov/transborder/

NOTES: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 6. U.S. Merchandise Trade with Mexico by Surface Modes of Transportation

(millions of dollars)

Excel | CSV

Mode   March 2011 February 2012 March 2012 Percent Change February 2012 - March 2012 Percent Change March 2011 - 2012
All Surface Modes Imports 18,030 18,248 20,169 10.5 11.9
Exports 14,070 14,447 15,533 7.5 10.4
Total 32,099 32,696 35,703 9.2 11.2
Truck Imports 14,996 14,894 16,662 11.9 11.1
Exports 10,959 11,367 12,206 7.4 11.4
Rail Imports 2,636 2,972 3,154 6.1 19.6
Exports 2,125 2,170 2,373 9.4 11.7
Pipeline Imports 18 18 24 33.5 33.9
Exports 329 337 315 -6.5 -4.3

SOURCE: BTS TransBorder Freight Data, http://www.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 surface modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail and pipeline 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://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html

Table 7. Top 10 States Trading with Mexico by All Surface Modes of Transportation

Ranked by March 2012 Surface Trade Value

(millions of dollars)

Excel | CSV

State March 2011 March 2012 Percent Change March 2011-2012
Value Rank Value Rank
Texas 11,341 1 12,640 1 11.5
California 4,442 2 5,187 2 16.8
Michigan 3,612 3 4,203 3 16.4
Arizona 1,095 4 1,282 4 17.1
Illinois 1,059 5 1,178 5 11.2
Ohio 913 6 942 6 3.1
Tennessee 617 7 779 7 26.3
Indiana 572 9 718 8 25.7
North Carolina 547 10 568 9 3.8
Georgia 583 8 470 10 -19.3

SOURCE: BTS TransBorder Freight Data, http://www.bts.gov/transborder/

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding

Table 8. Top Five Commodities Transported between the U.S. and Canada by All Surface Modes of Transportation, March 2012

(millions of dollars)

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Commodities Exports Imports Total
Vehicles Other than Railway 4,781 4,852 9,633
Oil and Gas 1,082 7,702 8,784
Computer-Related Machinery and Parts 4,174 1,695 5,869
Electrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts 2,050 702 2,752
Plastics 1,116 922 2,038

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, based on Transborder Freight Data, available at http://www.bts.gov/transborder/, as of March 20, 2012.

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

Table 9. Top Five Commodities Transported between the U.S. and Mexico by All Surface Modes of Transportation, March 2012

(millions of dollars)

Excel | CSV

Commodities Exports Imports Total
Electrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts 2,706 4,863 7,569
Computer-Related Machinery and Parts 2,976 3,785 6,761
Vehicles Other than Railway 1,678 4,400 6,079
Plastics 1,170 321 1,491
Measuring and Testing Instruments 409 883 1,292

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of TransportationStatistics, based on Transborder Freight Data, available at http://www.bts.gov/transborder/, as of March 13, 2012.

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