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North American Freight Numbers fall in November 28 January 2016

Value of US-NAFTA freight flows declined by 8.4%

The value of US-NAFTA freight totalled US$88.2 billion in November 2015 as all modes of transportation carried a lower total value of freight than a year earlier, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released by the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). Canada regained its historical rank as top North America trade partner after falling behind Mexico in total trade value for the first time in October. Large decreases in the value of commodities moved by pipeline and vessel in November were due to the reduced unit price of crude oil.

Year-over-year, the value of US-NAFTA freight flows by all modes declined by 8.4%.

Freight by Mode

In November 2015 compared to November 2014, the value of commodities moving by truck decreased by 0.4%, while the value of air freight decreased by 7.3% and rail by 9.8%. Vessel freight value decreased 42.6% and pipeline freight decreased 43.2% mainly due to the lower unit price of crude oil, which comprises a large share of the commodities carried by these modes. Average monthly prices for crude petroleum and refined fuel are available from the US Energy Information Administration.

Trucks carried 66.2% of US-NAFTA freight and continue to be the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both US-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for US$30.0 billion of the US$46.8 billion of imports (64.1%) and US$28.3 billion of the US$41.3 billion of exports (68.5%).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.1% of all US-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 5.4%; pipeline, 4.2%; and air, 3.8%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.5% of the total US-NAFTA freight flows.

US-Canada Freight

The value of US-Canada freight totalled US$45.1 billion in November 2015, down 13.8% from November 2014, as all modes of transportation carried a lower value of US-Canada freight than a year earlier.

Lower crude oil prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease in the value of freight moved between the US and Canada. Crude oil is a large share of freight carried by vessel and pipeline, which were down 46.1% and 43.5% respectively year-over-year.

Trucks carried 60.4% of the US$45.1 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 16.3%; pipeline, 7.7%; air, 4.6%; and vessel, 3.6%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.4% of the total US-Canada freight flows.

US-Mexico Freight

The value of US-Mexico freight totalled US$43.0 billion in November 2015, down 1.9% from November 2014, as two out of the five transportation modes – air and truck – carried more US-Mexico freight value than in November 2014. Freight carried by truck increased by 4.9%, led by shipments of electrical machinery, which were up 10.5%. Air freight value rose 2.7% while rail freight value declined 4.3%. Pipeline freight value decreased by 37.5% and vessel freight value decreased by 40.7% mainly due to lower crude oil prices.

Trucks carried 72.3%t of the US$43.0 billion of the value of freight transported to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 13.8%; vessel, 7.4% air, 2.9%; and pipeline, 0.6%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.7% of the total US-Mexico freight flows.


In November 2015, the top commodity category transported between the US and Canada by all modes was vehicles and parts, of which US$5.4 billion, or 59.0%, moved by truck and US$3.6 billion, or 38.7%, moved by rail. The top commodity category for all modes transported between the US and Mexico in November 2015 was electrical machinery, of which US$8.3 billion, or 92.3%, moved by truck and US$0.4 billion, or 4.9%, moved by air.