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U.S. NAFTA Surface Trade Increased in 2013

U.S.-NAFTA Merchandise Trade by Mode: 2010-2013. Graphic: U.S. DOT

WASHINGTON, DC — Three of five surface transportation modes – truck, rail and pipeline – carried more NAFTA trade in 2013 than the year before, a new U.S. Transportation Department report shows. 

Trade by pipeline also grew the most from year-to-year, 7.7 percent, partly due to the value of petroleum products, as the overall value on all modes rose 2.6 percent. Smaller increases took place on rail, advancing 4.6 percent, and truck increasing 2.2 percent, while vessel trade fell for the second consecutive year, losing 2.4 percent and air trade declined for the third straight year, falling one percent.

Most U.S.-NAFTA trade in 2013, 82.4 percent, was carried on the surface modes of truck, rail and pipeline. Trucks carried 59.7 percent, followed by rail at 15.4 percent, air at 9.1 percent, pipeline at 7.3 percent and vessel at 3.8 percent. 

Although truck carried more than half of U.S.-NAFTA trade last year, its share of total trade has dropped by four percentage points from 2004, the first year of DOT data for all modes, while the decline was 0.2 percent points in 2013 compared to 2012. Vessel’s percentage share rose 2.6 points while pipeline rose 1.9 points.

Trade with Canada

Trucks, rail and pipelines carried 83.6 percent of the trade between Canada and the US in 2013. Trucks carried 54.4 percent, followed by rail at 16.7 percent, pipeline at 12.6 percent, vessel at 5.7 percent and air at 4.5 percent.

From 2012 to 2013, total U.S.-Canada trade rose 2.6 percent. Freight on two modes, vessel and pipeline grew faster than overall trade, increasing 13 and 7.7 percent, respectively. Rail and air each gained 2.3 percent, while trucks inched forward slowly, increasing just 0.7 percent.

Although truck carried more than half of U.S.-Canada trade last year, 54.4 percent to be exact, its share of total trade has dropped by six percentage points from 2004, the first year of DOT data for all modes, while it fell 1.1 percentage points from 2012.

Truck’s share of imports declined 9.6 percentage points from 51.9 percent to 42.3 percent. Pipeline’s share of total trade rose 3.9 points while vessel rose 2.6 points.

Michigan led all states in trade with Canada in 2013 with $74.6 billion. Of the top 10 states for U.S.-Canada trade in 2013, Washington had the highest percent change over 2012, a 6.4-percent increase.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada in 2013 was mineral fuels, valued at $134.1 billion, with $79.2 billion or 59.1 percent moved by pipelines. The next highest commodity category transported by a single mode in U.S.-Canada trade was vehicles and vehicle parts (other than railway vehicles and parts) with $66.1 billion in trade moved by trucks.

 
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