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April 2016 North American Freight Numbers

Press Release Number: 
BTS 35-16
Date: 
Thursday, June 23, 2016
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: April 2015-2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 1. Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: April 2015-2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

Trucks carried more U.S. freight by value with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in April 2016 compared to April 2015 but declines in all other freight modes led to a 3.2 percent decrease to $90.4 billion in the total current dollar value of cross-border freight. April was the 16th consecutive month that the value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight declined from the same month of the previous year, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1, Table 1).

Freight by Mode
The value of commodities moving by truck increased 0.8 percent as the value of incoming freight from Mexico (up 6.5 percent) and Canada (up 3.0 percent) exceeded the 3.6 percent decrease in shipments from the U.S. The value of freight carried on other modes declined: rail 3.4 percent; air 10.4 percent; vessel 26.4 percent; and pipeline 30.5 percent (Figure 1, Table 2). A drop in the price of crude oil played a key role in the large declines in the dollar value of products shipped by vessel and pipeline. Crude oil (a component of mineral fuels) comprises a large share of the commodities carried by these modes. Average monthly prices for crude petroleum and refined fuel are available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Trucks carried 66.8 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continued to be the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $31.4 billion of the $47.6 billion of imports (65.9 percent) and $29.0 billion of the $42.8 billion of exports (67.8 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.6 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 5.0 percent; air, 3.8 percent; and pipeline, 3.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.0 percent of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows (Table 2).

U.S.-Canada Freight

Figure 2. Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: April 2015-2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 2. Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: April 2015-2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

From April 2015 to April 2016, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows fell 6.0 percent to $45.9 billion as all modes of transportation carried a lower value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier.

Lower crude oil prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease in the value of freight moved between the U.S. and Canada. Crude oil is a large share of freight carried by pipeline and vessel, which were down 31.2 percent and 45.1 percent respectively year-over-year (Figure 2, Table 3).

Trucks carried 60.8 percent of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 17.0 percent followed by pipeline, 6.7 percent; air, 4.7 percent; and vessel, 3.1 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.5 percent of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows (Table 3).

U.S.-Mexico Freight

Figure 3. Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: April 2015-2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 3. Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: April 2015-2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

From April 2015 to April 2016, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight fell 0.1 percent to $44.5 billion as all modes of transportation except truck carried a lower value of U.S.-Mexico freight than a year earlier. Freight carried by truck increased 2.8 percent, primarily because of an increase in shipments of machinery, computers, and parts. Rail freight value declined 1.1 percent. Vessel freight value declined 12.3 percent and pipeline freight value dropped by 21.4 percent, both due mainly to lower crude oil prices. Air freight value decreased by 22.3 percent (Figure 3, Table 4).

Trucks carried 73.0 percent of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 14.1 percent followed by vessel, 6.8 percent; air, 2.7 percent; and pipeline, 0.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 87.7 percent of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities
In April 2016, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada by all modes was vehicles and parts, of which $5.1 billion, or 54.6 percent, moved by truck and $4.0 billion, or 42.9 percent, moved by rail (Figure 4). The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico by all modes in April 2016 was computers and parts, of which $7.5 billion, or 85.8 percent, moved by truck (Figure 5).

Reporting Notes
BTS 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 seasonally adjusted and 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 for additional state, port, and commodity data. BTS has scheduled the release of May TransBorder numbers for July 28.

 

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

(millions of current dollars)

Month 2014 2015 2016 Percent Change 2014-2015 Percent Change 2015-2016
January 90,326 89,258 82,430 -1.2 -7.7
February 89,557 85,723 84,038 -4.3 -2.0
March 101,478 96,070 90,462 -5.3 -5.8
April 100,141 93,327 90,380 -6.8 -3.2
May 103,942 92,707   -10.8  
June 102,978 99,030   -3.8  
July 101,075 92,995   -8.0  
August 100,624 92,442   -8.1  
September 102,245 93,246   -8.8  
October 108,243 96,624   -10.7  
November 96,252 88,154   -8.4  
December 95,811 86,748   -9.5  
Year-to-date 381,502 364,379 347,309 -4.5 -4.7
Annual 1,192,671 1,106,325   -7.2  

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

Note: Numbers might 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   April 2015 April 2016 Percent Change April 2015-2016
All Modes Imports 49,061 47,611 -3.0
Exports 44,266 42,769 -3.4
Total 93,327 90,380 -3.2
All Surface Modes Imports 43,123 42,466 -1.5
Exports 36,122 35,295 -2.3
Total 79,245 77,761 -1.9
Truck Imports 29,828 31,357 5.1
Exports 30,060 28,991 -3.6
Total 59,888 60,348 0.8
Rail Imports 9,410 8,637 -8.2
Exports 5,178 5,462 5.5
Total 14,588 14,099 -3.4
Pipeline Imports 3,885 2,471 -36.4
Exports 884 842 -4.7
Total 4,769 3,313 -30.5
Vessel Imports 3,199 2,341 -26.8
Exports 2,900 2,147 -26.0
Total 6,099 4,488 -26.4
Air Imports 1,411 1,464 3.7
Exports 2,376 1,929 -18.8
Total 3,787 3,393 -10.4

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

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   April 2015 April 2016 Percent Change April 2015-2016
All Modes Imports 24,606 22,513 -8.5
Exports 24,211 23,384 -3.4
Total 48,817 45,897 -6.0
All Surface Modes Imports 21,473 19,866 -7.5
Exports 19,524 18,903 -3.2
Total 40,997 38,770 -5.4
Truck Imports 12,059 12,426 3.0
Exports 16,260 15,469 -4.9
Total 28,318 27,895 -1.5
Rail Imports 5,547 4,989 -10.0
Exports 2,689 2,827 5.2
Total 8,236 7,817 -5.1
Pipeline Imports 3,868 2,451 -36.6
Exports 576 607 5.5
Total 4,444 3,058 -31.2
Vessel Imports 1,427 994 -30.4
Exports 1,196 447 -62.6
Total 2,623 1,441 -45.1
Air Imports 872 890 2.0
Exports 1,348 1,287 -4.6
Total 2,220 2,177 -2.0

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.

 

U.S.-Mexico Freight

Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, April 2016

Table Version | Excel

 Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, April 2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data
NOTES: Import and export numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

 

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

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   April 2015 April 2016 Percent Change April 2015-2016
All Modes Imports 24,454 25,098 2.6
Exports 20,055 19,385 -3.3
Total 44,509 44,483 -0.1
All Surface Modes Imports 21,649 22,599 4.4
Exports 16,598 16,392 -1.2
Total 38,248 38,992 1.9
Truck Imports 17,769 18,931 6.5
Exports 13,801 13,523 -2.0
Total 31,570 32,454 2.8
Rail Imports 3,864 3,648 -5.6
Exports 2,489 2,634 5.8
Total 6,353 6,283 -1.1
Pipeline Imports 16 20 23.1
Exports 309 235 -23.8
Total 325 255 -21.4
Vessel Imports 1,772 1,347 -24.0
Exports 1,704 1,700 -0.2
Total 3,476 3,047 -12.3
Air Imports 539 574 6.5
Exports 1,027 643 -37.5
Total 1,566 1,217 -22.3

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.

 

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, April 2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, April 2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data
NOTES: Import and export numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.