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Value of Monthly U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows Eclipses U.S.-Canada Flows for First Time

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The value of monthly freight flows between the U.S. and its NAFTA partners rose from September to October, up 3.6 percent to $96.6 billion, according to statistics released Jan. 8 by the Department of Transportation. However, the value of NAFTA freight flows in October was down 10.7 percent from a year earlier primarily due to the reduced unit price of crude oil.

Month-to-Month Changes. Percentage changes in the value of monthly U.S. freight flows by mode of transportation from September to October include the following.

Total

Canada

Mexico

Imports

Exports

Imports

Exports

Imports

Exports

Truck

+6.0

+5.5

+0.3

+3.9

+9.8

+7.4

Rail

+3.5

+1.9

+2.4

-3.9

+4.9

+7.5

Vessel

-6.2

+12.1

-18.5

+24.9

+1.9

+5.4

Air

-1.2

+21.6

-12.7

+6.5

+20.3

+49.8

Pipeline

-21.3

-11.8

-21.6

-16.3

+21.1

-2.9

Year-on-Year Changes. The value of total U.S. trade with Canada was down 18.5 percent from October 2014 as all modes carried smaller total values of freight. This decline is the largest since the 19.4 percent decline between October 2008 and October 2009 and was due in part to lower prices for crude oil. The value of U.S. trade with Mexico dropped 1.5 percent despite the air and truck modes having carried a higher value of freight than a year earlier. However, October was the first month on record in which the total value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows exceeded U.S.-Canada freight flows. Vehicles and parts retained their spot as the top commodity category for all modes transported between the U.S. and Canada, as did electrical machinery with respect to U.S.-Mexico trade.

Percentage changes in the value of monthly U.S. freight flows by mode of transportation from October 2014 to October 2015 include the following.

Total

Canada

Mexico

Imports

Exports

Imports

Exports

Imports

Exports

Truck

+3.9

-7.7

-4.4

-12.6

+9.9

-1.7

Rail

-13.3

-18.9

-19.0

-29.1

-4.8

-7.1

Vessel

-45.4

-22.1

-36.6

-27.4

-49.1

-18.5

Air

-9.2

+3.0

-19.0

-6.3

+8.9

+18.8

Pipeline

-55.3

-29.8

-55.5

-27.8

+17.9

-33.0

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