October NAFTA value marks first decline streak since 2016

December 20, 2019

Tyson Fisher


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.


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.