NAFTA took another monthly hit in December

February 25, 2020

Tyson Fisher


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in December trucks moved nearly 60% of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. Although numbers are down significantly from the peak of the year, NAFTA freight ended the year up, albeit just slightly.

The value of freight hauled across the borders decreased by 2.7% compared with November, when NAFTA freight went down by 7.5% compared with the previous month. December NAFTA’s monthly decrease marked the seventh decline in 2019.

Compared to December 2018, freight was up 4% after a 3.9% year-to-year decrease in November and a 3.3% decrease in October. December NAFTA’s yearly increase breaks a four-month losing streak, the first streak of year-to-year decreases since 2016. August 2016 broke a long year-to-year decline streak that began in January 2015 and lasted through July 2016.

In 2018, NAFTA freight decreased by 1% compared to the previous year, with 62% of that freight carried by trucks. December’s monthly decrease still puts cross-border freight at a 4% increase for 2019.

December NAFTA (truck freight)
Truck cross-border freight value by state compared to November. Blue states denote an increase, while orange states denote a decrease. (Courtesy Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

Trucks carried more than $57 billion of the more than $96 billion of cross-border imports and exports in December, down nearly 9% from November and down 0.3% compared with December 2018.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight decreased by 0.2%, whereas Mexico freight decreased by 0.3%. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, motor vehicles and parts, electrical machinery, plastics, and measuring/testing instruments.

December NAFTA freight totaled $96.3 billion, down by nearly $3 billion from the previous month but an increase of nearly $4 billion from December 2018.

Pipeline freight accounted for the largest increase at 40% after a decrease of 8% in December. Trucking suffered the only year-to-year increase at 0.3%.

Nearly 52% of U.S.-Canada December NAFTA freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 16%. Of the nearly $47 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried more than 67% of the loads.


Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.