NAFTA truck freight continued to grow year-to-year in April

June 27, 2018

Tyson Fisher


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in April trucks moved 64 percent of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. Four of five modes experienced an increase in freight year to year.

The value of freight hauled across the borders decreased by 3 percent compared with March, when freight increased significantly by nearly 13 percent from the previous month. Compared to April 2017, freight was up nearly 13 percent. This marks the 18th consecutive month of year-to-year increases.

March 2017 had the largest month-to-month increase (16 percent) since March 2011, when NAFTA freight was up more than 22 percent compared to February 2011. NAFTA freight declined by nearly 11 percent in July 2017, the largest decline for the year.

In March 2017, the index reached more than $100 billion for the first time since October 2014 before going back below that mark in April. That landmark was revisited in October and maintained through November before dipping below the $100 billion mark again in December. March marked the first month in 2018 to reach beyond $100 million, with April maintaining that status, despite the month-to-month decrease.

Truck NAFTA value by state compared to March. Blue states denote an increase, while orange states denote a decrease. (Courtesy of Bureau of Transportation Statistics)


Trucks carried nearly $66 billion of the nearly $103 billion of imports and exports in April.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight increased by 10 percent and Mexico freight rose by 20 percent. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, motor vehicles and parts, electrical machinery, plastics, and measuring/testing instruments.

Freight totaled $102.7 billion, down more than $3 billion from the previous month but an increase of nearly $12 billion from April 2017.

Vessel freight accounted for the largest increase at 35 percent after an increase of 42 percent in March. Trucks accounted for an increase of 15.3 percent, the second largest increase. Truck freight experienced increases of 4.1 percent in March and 9 percent in February.

More than 57 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 17 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went up by nearly 15 percent compared with April 2017. Of the $50.519 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried more than 71 percent of the loads.