North American Transborder Freight Data

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August 2016 North American Freight Numbers

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Figure 1. U.S.-NAFTA Freight Value Percent Change from Previous Year (Last 24 months)

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Figure 1. U.S.-NAFTA Freight Value Percent Change from Previous Year (Last 24 months)

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,

Two transportation modes – air and truck – carried more cross-border freight by value in August 2016 compared to August 2015, resulting in a 0.7 percent increase to $93.1 billion in the total current dollar value of freight moved. August was the first month since December 2014 where the total value of U.S. freight with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico increased from the same month of the previous year, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1, Table 1).

Freight by Mode

Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: August 2015-2016

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Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: August 2015-2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,

The value of commodities moving by air and truck increased 4.9 percent and 3.4 percent respectively, while the value of freight carried on other modes decreased: rail by 0.3 percent; pipeline by 4.5 percent and vessel by 12.5 percent (Figure 2, Table 2).

Trucks carried 65.3 percent 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 accounted for $31.2 billion of the $49.7 billion of imports (62.8 percent) and $29.6 billion of the $43.4 billion of exports (68.3 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.3 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 5.8 percent; pipeline, 5.1 percent; and air, 3.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.7 percent of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows (Table 2).

U.S.-Canada Freight

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: August 2015-2016

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Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: August 2015-2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,

From August 2015 to August 2016, three transportation modes – air, rail, and truck – carried a higher value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier. However, the total value of U.S.-Canada freight fell to $47.3 billion, down 1.4 percent from a year earlier, due to decreases in the value of goods moved by vessel and pipeline (Figure 3, Table 3).

Trucks carried 59.6 percent of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 16.5 percent followed by pipeline, 9.0 percent; air, 4.7 percent; and vessel, 3.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.1 percent of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows (Table 3).

U.S.-Mexico Freight

Figure 4.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: August 2015-2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 4.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: August 2015-2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,

From August 2015 to August 2016, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight increased 3.0 percent to $45.8 billion as three modes of transportation – pipeline, truck and air – carried a higher value of U.S.-Mexico freight than a year earlier. Freight carried by pipeline increased by 45.1 percent, truck by 5.4 percent and air by 0.1 percent. Rail decreased 3.8 percent and vessel decreased by 4.9 percent (Figure 4, Table 4).

Trucks carried 71.2 percent of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 14.1 percent followed by vessel, 7.8 percent; air, 2.8 percent; and pipeline, 1.1 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.4 percent of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities
In August 2016, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada by all modes was vehicles and parts, of which $5.2 billion, or 55.1 percent, moved by truck and $4.0 billion, or 42.5 percent, moved by rail (Figure 5). The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico by all modes in August 2016 was electrical machinery, of which $7.4 billion, or 79.5 percent, moved by truck (Figure 6).

Reporting Notes
BTS press releases and the BTS website define surface transportation modes as truck, rail and pipeline. See  on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004. The category of all modes of transportation cited in the following tables includes freight movements by truck, rail, vessel, pipeline, air, and unknown modes of transport. 

Data in this press release are not seasonally adjusted and are not adjusted for inflation. Additional summary data adjusted for inflation and exchange rates can be found on the BTS website under . The BLS indexes used in the adjustments for inflation and exchange rates might be revised in each of the three months after original publication. For previous press releases and summary tables, see TransBorder Press Releases.  See for data from previous months, and for additional state, port, and commodity data. BTS has scheduled the release of September TransBorder numbers for Nov. 29.

Table 1. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows

(millions of current dollars)

Month 2014 2015 2016 Percent Change 2014-2015 Percent Change 2015-2016
January 90,326 89,258 82,430 -1.2 -7.7
February 89,557 85,723 84,038 -4.3 -2.0
March 101,478 96,070 90,462 -5.3 -5.8
April 100,141 93,327 90,380 -6.8 -3.2
May 103,942 92,707 89,840 -10.8 -3.1
June 102,978 99,030 92,671 -3.8 -6.4
July 101,075 92,995 83,725 -8.0 -10.0
August 100,624 92,442 93,126 -8.1 0.7
September 102,245 93,246   -8.8  
October 108,243 96,624   -10.7  
November 96,252 88,154   -8.4  
December 95,811 86,748   -9.5  
Year-to-date 790,121 741,553 706,672 -6.1 -4.7
Annual 1,192,671 1,106,325   -7.2  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Note: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 2. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   August 2015 August 2016 Percent Change August 2015-2016
All Modes Imports 49,766 49,744 0.0
Exports 42,676 43,383 1.7
Total 92,442 93,126 0.7
All Surface Modes Imports 43,299 43,803 1.2
Exports 34,790 36,043 3.6
Total 78,089 79,846 2.2
Truck Imports 29,684 31,217 5.2
Exports 29,138 29,627 1.7
Total 58,822 60,845 3.4
Rail Imports 9,509 9,002 -5.3
Exports 4,778 5,241 9.7
Total 14,286 14,243 -0.3
Pipeline Imports 4,106 3,584 -12.7
Exports 874 1,174 34.3
Total 4,981 4,758 -4.5
Vessel Imports 3,134 2,821 -10.0
Exports 2,998 2,547 -15.0
Total 6,132 5,368 -12.5
Air Imports 1,408 1,566 11.2
Exports 1,913 1,917 0.2
Total 3,321 3,483 4.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: .

Table 3. Value of Monthly U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   August 2015 August 2016 Percent Change August 2015-2016
All Modes Imports 24,886 24,186 -2.8
Exports 23,065 23,100 0.2
Total 47,951 47,286 -1.4
All Surface Modes Imports 21,471 21,284 -0.9
Exports 18,575 18,939 2.0
Total 40,046 40,224 0.4
Truck Imports 12,182 12,769 4.8
Exports 15,658 15,423 -1.5
Total 27,840 28,193 1.3
Rail Imports 5,203 4,945 -5.0
Exports 2,378 2,844 19.6
Total 7,581 7,789 2.7
Pipeline Imports 4,086 3,570 -12.6
Exports 539 672 24.7
Total 4,624 4,242 -8.3
Vessel Imports 1,244 1,099 -11.7
Exports 1,118 682 -39.0
Total 2,362 1,781 -24.6
Air Imports 853 964 13.0
Exports 1,205 1,256 4.2
Total 2,058 2,220 7.9

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: .

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, August 2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, August 2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,
NOTES: Import and export numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

Table 4. Value of Monthly U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   August 2015 August 2016 Percent Change August 2015-2016
All Modes Imports 24,880 25,557 2.7
Exports 19,612 20,283 3.4
Total 44,492 45,840 3.0
All Surface Modes Imports 21,828 22,519 3.2
Exports 16,215 17,103 5.5
Total 38,043 39,622 4.2
Truck Imports 17,502 18,448 5.4
Exports 13,480 14,204 5.4
Total 30,982 32,652 5.4
Rail Imports 4,306 4,057 -5.8
Exports 2,400 2,397 -0.1
Total 6,705 6,453 -3.8
Pipeline Imports 21 14 -31.5
Exports 336 503 49.8
Total 356 517 45.1
Vessel Imports 1,890 1,722 -8.9
Exports 1,880 1,865 -0.8
Total 3,770 3,587 -4.9
Air Imports 554 601 8.5
Exports 708 662 -6.6
Total 1,262 1,263 0.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: .

Figure 6. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, August 2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 6. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, August 2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,
NOTES: Import and export numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

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