United States trade with its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, Canada and Mexico, saw annual growth in December, the most recent month for which data is available, marking the 14th consecutive month of gains.
Total value came in at $93.5 million, with all five modes of freight transportation moving more freight by value, and marked a 7.4% annual increase.
Trucks carried 60.7% 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 also accounted for $29 billion of the $50.5 billion of imports (57.4%) and $27.8 billion of the $43.0 billion of exports (64.6%).
Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 14.5% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 8.4%; pipeline, 6.5%; and air, 4.1%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.7% of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.
BTS said that from December 2016 to November 2017 the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows headed up 9.5% to $48.7 million, as the as the value of freight on five major modes increased annually.
The value of freight carried by vessel increased by 61.1% due in part to an increase in the unit value and an 42.8% increase in the tonnage of mineral fuels traded. Pipeline increased by 15.3%, rail by 10.1%, air by 7.2%, and truck by 6.4%. Trucks carried 55.1% of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 15.3% followed by pipeline, 11.6%; vessel, 5.3%; and air, 4.9%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82% of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows.
Comparing December 2016 to December 2017, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased by 5.2% to $44.8 billion as the value of freight on three major modes increased from a year earlier.
The value of commodities moved by vessel increased by 28.7%, truck by 4.5%, and pipeline by 0.7%. Rail decreased by 4.9% and air by 0.8%. Rail declined largely because the value of vehicles and parts it carried in December 2017 dropped 9.8% from December 2016. Total vehicles and parts freight with Mexico grew however, contributing to increases in truck, vessel and air in December 2017 over the previous year. Trucks carried 66.8% of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 13.7% followed by vessel, 11.7%; air, 3.2%; and pipeline, 0.9%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.4% of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.