NAFTA freight value down for second straight year in 2016

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, March 02, 2017

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics has released North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) data for 2016 and it looks much like data from 2015 – i.e., another yearly loss. Four out of five modes, including trucks, carried less freight when compared to the previous year.

Overall freight value for 2016 was $1.069 trillion, a 3.4 percent decline from 2015. Freight value decreased by 7.3 percent in 2015. Both 2013 and 2014 experienced yearly increases of 2.8 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.

Trucks carried $700 billion of NAFTA freight last year, the smallest decrease across all modes at 1.65 percent, and accounted for approximately 65.5 percent of total NAFTA freight. Vessel freight suffered the largest annual decrease at 20 percent. Rail was the only mode where value increased for the year, up 0.2 percent in 2016.

As a share of commodities across all modes, trucking’s share increased by 1.1 percent and rail increased by 0.5 percent. All other modes saw their share decline in 2016. Compared to a decade ago, trucking’s share has increased by nearly 4 percent.

According to BTS, the declining price of crude oil led to the decline value of vessel and pipeline freight. As oil prices began to increase later in the year and continue to do so, vessel and pipeline freight could see its 2017 value increase relative to 2016’s value.

Freight values of the Canadian flow dropped 5.4 percent last year to $544 billion. Trucks carried more than 60 percent of Canadian freight, a 1.9 percent increase from 2015 and 1.3 percent increase from 2006. Michigan led states with the highest Canadian freight flow at more than $71 billion dollars, a 3.9 percent increase from 2015. The top commodity between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, valued at $106.1 billion.

Mexican freight value fell 1.1 percent to $525.1 billion. Trucks carried 71 percent of Mexican freight, a 0.1 increase from 2015 and a 5 percent increase from 2006. Texas carried the most Mexican freight at more than $173 billion, down 2.4 percent from the previous year. Electrical machinery was the top commodity between the U.S. and its southern neighbor, valued at $102.6 billion.

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