October NAFTA value marks first decline streak since 2016

December 20, 2019

Tyson Fisher

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in October trucks moved nearly 64% of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. Cross-border freight suffered its largest year-to-year loss in October, while at the same time experiencing the second-largest monthly gain for the year.

The value of freight hauled across the borders increased by 5.6% compared with September, when NAFTA freight declined by 3.5% compared with the previous month. October’s monthly increase is the largest since March, when freight went up by nearly 14%.

Compared to October 2018, freight was down 3.3% after a 0.2% year-to-year decrease in September and a 1.7% decrease in August. December’s decrease last year broke a 25-month streak of year-to-year increases. This marks 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. October’s monthly increase puts cross-border freight at a 13.5% increase for the year so far.

October 2019 NAFTA
Truck cross-border freight value by state compared to September. Blue states denote an increase, while orange states denote a decrease. (Courtesy Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

Trucks carried more than $68 billion of the more than $107 billion of cross-border imports and exports in October, up nearly 7% from September but down nearly 3% compared with October 2018.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight decreased by 2.5%, whereas Mexico freight decreased by 3%. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, motor vehicles and parts, electrical machinery, plastics, and measuring/testing instruments.

Freight totaled $107.1 billion, up significantly by nearly $6 billion from the previous month but a decrease of nearly $4 billion from October 2018. This is the third-highest monthly NAFTA Value. May’s NAFTA value was $109.8 billion, followed by March at $107.2 billion.

Vessel freight accounted for the largest decrease at 9% after a decrease of 12% in September. For the fourth consecutive month, air freight experienced the highest year-to-year increase. In fact, air freight experienced the only increase at 17%.

Nearly 56% of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 15%. Of the more than $53 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried nearly 72% of the loads.

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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.