U.S. trade in transportation services in 2002 totaled $105.4 billion (in current dollars1), down 2 percent from $107.6 billion in 2001 (figure 12-4). This decline was smaller than the 8 percent drop between 2000 and 2001. Of the trade in 2001, 57 percent was for imports (payments to foreign countries) and 43 percent was for exports (receipts by U.S. entities), resulting in a $14.9 billion trade deficit for transportation services (box 12-B).
The United States had a surplus in transportation services from 1990 through 1997 (figure 12-5). The trade surplus was highest in 1992, at $3.8 billion (in current dollars), but exports exceeded imports by over $3 billion in other years prior to 1997, as well. Then, between 1997 and 1998, imports increased 7 percent while exports decreased 5 percent, resulting in a $4.6 billion deficit. The deficit continued to grow at an average annual rate of 32 percent between 1998 and 2002, when the deficit reached $13.9 billion.
U.S. exports and imports in transportation services include freight services provided by carriers; port services provided by airports, seaports, and terminals; and passenger travel services provided by carriers. U.S. trade in transportation services generates substantial revenues for U.S. businesses in receipts to U.S. carriers and ports. These services also result in payments by U.S. companies to foreign freight and passenger carriers and ports. Because an efficient transportation system puts a premium on system reliability and speed, the performance of freight carriers and ports directly influences the competitiveness of U.S. businesses engaged in international trade.
1 All dollar amounts in this section are in current dollars. While it is important to compare trends in economic activity using constant or chained dollars to eliminate the effects of price inflation, it is not possible to do so in this instance (see the note on the figures and table 12-4 and table 12-5 in appendix B).