North American Transborder Freight Data

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U.S. - NAFTA Trade Exceeds $100B for First Time on Record

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Figure 1.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: 
October 2013 Compared to October 2012

Table Version

Figure 1.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode:   October 2013 Compared to October 2012

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,

U.S. trade with its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in October 2013 was $103.1 billion, up 4.5 percent from October 2012 and exceeding $100 billion for the first month on record, according to freight data released today by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (Table 1). 

BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that three of the five transportation modes carried more U.S.-NAFTA trade in October 2013 than in October 2012. Total surface transportation trade, comprised of truck, rail and pipeline, was at an all-time high in October, at $85.4 billion. Truck, at $61.4 billion, and rail, at $15.9 billion, also reached record monthly levels (Table 2).

Total surface transportation trade topped its previous high of $81.7 billion set in March 2013.  The previous high for truck was $60.0 billion in October 2012, and for rail the previous high was $15.3 billion in May 2013.

Pipelines showed the most year-to-year growth at 23.7 percent.  The increase in the value of freight carried by pipelines reflects the rise in prices for oil and other petroleum products, the primary commodity transported by pipelines (Table 3).

Trade by Mode
Truck, which carries three-fifths of U.S.-NAFTA trade and is the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners, rose 3.1 percent year-to-year while rail rose 7.1 percent. Vessel declined 3.6 percent and air declined 1.0 percent (Figure 1).

Trucks carried 59.5 percent of the $103.1 billion of U.S.-NAFTA trade in October 2013 accounting for $32.3 billion of exports and $29.0 billion of imports (Table 2). Truck was followed by rail at 15.4 percent, vessels at 8.8 percent, pipeline at 7.8 percent and air at 3.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.8 percent of the total NAFTA freight flows.

Trade with Canada
U.S.-Canada trade by vessel, of which 63.3 percent was imported, had the largest percentage increase of any mode from October 2012 to October 2013, growing 40.2 percent.  Next highest was pipeline trade, which grew 26.7 percent during the same period. Petroleum products have the highest value of any commodity by both vessel and pipeline although pipelines carry four times the amount of petroleum from Canada to the U.S. as do vessels.  U.S.-Canada pipeline trade comprises 96.1 percent of total U.S.-NAFTA pipeline trade (Tables 2, 4). Freight moved by truck between the U.S. and Canada grew the least of any mode, 0.7 percent (Figure 3).

For trade with Canada in October, trucks carried 53.5 percent of the $56.7 billion of freight, followed by rail at 16.5 percent, pipelines at 13.7 percent, vessel at 6.0 percent and air at 4.5 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.8 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows (Table 4). 

Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode:
October 2012-October 2013

Table Version

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: October 2012-October 2013

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,

Trade with Mexico
U.S.-Mexico trade by rail had the largest percentage increase of any mode from October 2012 to October 2013, growing 10.9 percent. Freight moved by vessel between the U.S. and Mexico decreased by 18.8 percent due to a 25 percent drop in the value of mineral fuels (primarily oil and natural gas) moving between the U.S. and Mexico by vessel (Figure 4).   

For trade with Mexico in October, trucks carried 66.9 percent of the $46.4 billion of the freight, followed by rail at 14.1 percent, vessel at 12.2 percent, air at 3.0 percent and pipelines at 0.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.6 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 6).

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode:
October 2012-October 2013

Table Version

Figure 4.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: October 2012-October 2013

Commodities
In October 2013, the top commodity group transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, of which $7.8 billion moved by pipeline (Table 5). The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in October 2013 was electrical machinery, of which $8.2 billion moved by truck (Table 7).

Reporting Notes
Beginning with January 2013, BTS monthly TransBorder press releases contain data for all modes of transportation. 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 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 may be revised in each of the three months after original publication. For more information, see TransBorder Press Releases  for previous press releases and summary tables. See for data from previous months, and more state, port, or commodity data.  BTS has scheduled the release of November TransBorder numbers for Jan. 29.

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

(millions of current dollars)

Month201120122013Percent Change 2011-2012Percent Change 2012-2013
January79,60887,49090,5129.93.5
February77,01589,38588,44916.1-1.0
March94,22899,51095,5665.6-4.0
April87,09792,19998,9845.97.4
May91,12696,84098,5776.31.8
June90,66394,20093,4833.9-0.8
July84,95287,69193,1923.26.3
August93,45094,59396,5261.22.0
September90,77189,87594,350-1.05.0
October91,83798,632103,0897.44.5
November90,40194,877 5.0 
December86,77584,695 -2.4 
Year-to-date880,748930,416952,7285.62.4
Annual1,057,9241,109,988 4.9 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Note: Numbers may 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 October 2012October 2013Percent Change October 2012-2013
All ModesImports52,44455,0885.0
Exports46,18848,0013.9
Total98,632103,0894.5
All Surface ModesImports43,75546,1605.5
Exports37,18139,2235.5
Total80,93585,3835.5
TruckImports28,63529,0431.4
Exports30,89632,3294.6
Total59,53161,3733.1
RailImports9,49310,2568.0
Exports5,3765,6685.4
Total14,86915,9247.1
PipelineImports5,6266,86121.9
Exports9091,22634.8
Total6,5358,08723.7
VesselImports5,5925,548-0.8
Exports3,7853,496-7.6
Total9,3779,045-3.6
AirImports1,7201,715-0.3
Exports2,2452,209-1.6
Total3,9653,924-1.0

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. Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode

October 2013 Compared to October in...Percent Change
TruckRailPipelineAirVesselAll Modes
20123.17.123.7-1.0-3.64.5
201111.415.132.5-0.62.212.3
201022.235.462.9-5.024.925.8
200939.664.681.55.573.446.6
200824.927.714.014.27.922.0
200717.228.853.113.436.522.2
200629.146.473.924.366.136.6
200538.249.654.131.368.342.5
200451.062.5135.143.088.960.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

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

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

(millions of current dollars)

Mode October 2012October 2013Percent Change October 2012-2013
All ModesImports27,62629,8248.0
Exports25,73026,8474.3
Total53,35656,6706.2
All Surface ModesImports24,12625,4425.5
Exports21,11122,0404.4
Total45,23847,4825.0
TruckImports12,36612,223-1.2
Exports17,76918,1101.9
Total30,13530,3320.7
RailImports6,1356,3773.9
Exports2,8312,9985.9
Total8,9669,3754.6
PipelineImports5,6256,84321.6
Exports51293282.0
Total6,1377,77526.7
VesselImports1,5572,14537.8
Exports8621,24644.5
Total2,4193,39140.2
AirImports9341,06614.1
Exports1,5841,487-6.1
Total2,5182,5531.4

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 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, October 2013

(millions of current dollars)

ModeCommoditiesExportsImportsTotal
TruckVehicles Other than Railway3,3222,4925,814
RailVehicles Other than Railway9582,5833,541
PipelineMineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes9326,8227,754
VesselMineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes1,0281,7482,776
AirComputer-Related Machinery and Parts336192528

Source: Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Note: Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.

Table 6. Value of Monthly U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode October 2012October 2013Percent Change October 2012-2013
All ModesImports24,81825,2651.8
Exports20,45821,1543.4
Total45,27646,4192.5
All Surface ModesImports19,62820,7185.6
Exports16,06917,1836.9
Total35,69837,9016.2
TruckImports16,26916,8213.4
Exports13,12714,2208.3
Total29,39631,0415.6
RailImports3,3573,87915.5
Exports2,5462,6704.9
Total5,9036,54810.9
PipelineImports2191073.0
Exports397294-26.0
Total399312-21.6
VesselImports4,0363,403-15.7
Exports2,9232,250-23.0
Total6,9595,654-18.8
AirImports786649-17.5
Exports6617239.4
Total1,4471,371-5.2

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 7. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, October 2013

(millions of current dollars)

ModeCommoditiesExportsImportsTotal
TruckElectrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts3,1465,0338,178
RailVehicles Other than Railway7212,9363,657
PipelineMineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes29418312
VesselMineral Fuels; Oils and Waxes1,3282,8564,184
AirElectrical Machinery; Equipment and Parts246211457

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Note: Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.

Updated: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
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