December NAFTA marks worst month in two years

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 3/11/2019

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in December trucks moved nearly 62 percent of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. Only trucking and rail freight experienced a year-to-year increase.

The value of freight hauled across the borders decreased by more than 10 percent compared with November, when freight increased by 7 percent from the previous month. This is the largest month-to-month decrease since July 2017, when NAFTA freight dropped by nearly 11 percent.

Compared to December 2017, freight was down nearly 1 percent, breaking a 25-month streak of year-to-year increases. The last year-to-year decrease occurred in October 2016 when NAFTA freight dropped nearly 4 percent.

In 2017, March 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 2017 and maintained through November 2017 before dipping below the $100 billion mark again in December. March marked the first month in 2018 to reach beyond $100 million, where it stayed through November. December’s numbers break that nine-month streak.

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

Trucks carried more than $57 billion of the nearly $93 billion of imports and exports in December.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight decreased by nearly 4 percent, whereas Mexico freight rose by 5.5 percent. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, electrical machinery, motor vehicles and parts, plastics and measuring/testing instruments.

Freight totaled $92.668 billion, down more than $108 billion from the previous month and a decrease of more than $800 million from December 2017. December’s total NAFTA freight value is the lowest since July 2017 when it was valued at $89.75 billion.

Rail freight accounted for the largest increase at 4.1 percent after an increase of 3.9 percent in November. Trucks had the second highest increase at 1 percent. Truck freight experienced increases of 3 percent in November and 9 percent in October. Pipeline freight had the largest decrease at 22.8 percent after reporting an increase of 7.1 percent in November.

Approximately 56 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 17 percent. Of the nearly $47 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried nearly 68 percent of the loads.



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