Relative Prices for Transportation Goods and Services

Relative Prices for Transportation Goods and Services

The United States had relatively lower prices for transportation goods and services in 20011 than did 9 out of 24 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries (figure 11-1). However, the nation's top two overall merchandise trade partners, Canada and Mexico, had lower relative prices in 2001 than did the United States. Many of the OECD countries that had less expensive transportation goods and services than the United States have developing and transitional economies.

Prices in 2001 for transportation goods and services in Japan and the United Kingdom—both major U.S. trade partners—were much higher than in the United States. However, between 1999 and 2001, these prices in some countries, such as Germany, France, and Belgium, decreased leading to lower relative prices than in the United States [1, 2].

Relative price comparisons may indicate how Domestic U.S. transportation industries, goods, and services stack up against their foreign counterparts. The relative price for a good or service traded between two countries is the price for that commodity in one country divided by the price for the same commodity in another country, with the prices for the goods and services in both countries expressed in a common currency. However, relative prices for goods and services alone do not reveal why transportation is more expensive in one country than another. They also do not reveal the quality or reliability of the transportation or fully take into account differences in geospatial factors between countries.


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Statistics Annual Report, October 2003 (Washington DC: 2003), p. 120.

2. ______. Transportation Statistics Annual Report, September 2004 (Washington DC: 2004), p. 138.

1 The most recent year for which comparable international data were available at the time this report was prepared.