NAFTA freight experiences largest year-to-year increase in more than six years

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 9/25/2018

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in July trucks moved 62 percent of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. All five modes experienced an increase in freight year-to-year for the third consecutive month.

The value of freight hauled across the borders decreased by nearly 5 percent compared with June, when freight decreased by 1 percent from the previous month. This is the largest month-to-month increase since December 2017 when NAFTA freight declined by 7 percent. Compared to July 2017, freight was up 13.5 percent, the largest year-to-year increase since February 2012 when NAFTA freight increased by 16.4 percent compared with February 2011. This marks the 21st consecutive month of year-to-year increases.

March 2017 had the largest month-to-month increase (16 percent) since March 2011, when NAFTA freight was up more than 22 percent compared to February 2011. NAFTA freight declined by nearly 11 percent in July 2017, the largest decline for the year.

In March 2017, the index reached more than $100 billion for the first time since October 2014 before going back below that mark in April. That landmark was revisited in October and maintained through November before dipping below the $100 billion mark again in December. March marked the first month in 2018 to reach beyond $100 million, which has been maintained through at least July so far.


NAFTA freight by state and mode chart

Truck NAFTA value by state compared to June. Blue states denote an increase, while orange states denote a decrease. (Courtesy Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

Trucks carried nearly $63 billion of the more than $101 billion of imports and exports in July.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight increased by 7.3 percent and Mexico freight rose by 14.6 percent. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, electrical machinery, motor vehicles and parts, plastics and measuring/testing instruments.

Freight totaled $101.212 billion, down nearly $5 billion from the previous month but an increase of more than $12 billion from July 2017.

Vessel freight accounted for the largest increase at 42.4 percent after an increase of 26.5 percent in June. Trucks accounted for an increase of 11.2 percent, the third largest increase behind a 32 percent increase in pipeline freight. Truck freight experienced increases of 5.3 percent in June and 9 percent in May.

More than 55 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 11 percent. Of the $51 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried 68.5 percent of the loads.



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