U.S. trade with its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in October 2013 was $103.1 billion, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced January 7th.
That figure is up 4.5 percent from the value of NAFTA trade in October 2012 and marks the first month that it has exceeded $100 billion, according to freight data released the same day by the department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
NAFTA, which entered into force January 1, 1994, is a regional agreement among the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States to establish a free trade area. Its provisions came into force gradually and were fully implemented in 2008.
Three of the five transportation modes carried more U.S.-NAFTA trade in October 2013 than in October 2012. Total surface transportation trade (truck, rail and pipeline) was at an all-time high in October 2013, at $85.4 billion. Truck, at $61.4 billion, and rail, at $15.9 billion, also reached record monthly levels.
Pipelines showed the most year-to-year growth, increasing 23.7 percent. That increase in the value of freight carried by pipelines reflects the rise in prices for oil and other petroleum products, the primary commodity transported by pipelines.
Truck, which carries three-fifths of U.S.-NAFTA trade and is the most heavily used mode for moving goods to and from NAFTA partners, rose 3.1 percent as compared to October 2012, while rail rose 7.1 percent, vessel declined 3.6 percent and air declined 1.0 percent.
In U.S.-Canada trade, goods carried by vessel had the largest percentage increase of any mode from October 2012 to October 2013, growing 40.2 percent.
Next highest was pipeline trade, which grew 26.7 percent during the same period. U.S.-Canada pipeline trade makes up 96.1 percent of total U.S.-NAFTA pipeline trade.
Freight moved by truck between the United States and Canada grew the least of any mode, 0.7 percent.
In October 2013, trucks carried 53.5 percent of the $56.7 billion of freight, followed by rail at 16.5 percent, pipelines at 13.7 percent, vessels at 6.0 percent and airplanes at 4.5 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.8 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows.
In U.S.-Mexico trade, rail had the largest percentage increase of any mode from October 2012 to October 2013, growing 10.9 percent. Freight moved by vessel between the United States and Mexico decreased by 18.8 percent, due to a 25 percent drop in the value of mineral fuels (primarily oil and natural gas) moving between the United States and Mexico by vessel.
For trade with Mexico in October 2013, trucks carried 66.9 percent of the $46.4 billion of freight, followed by rail at 14.1 percent, vessel at 12.2 percent, air at 3.0 percent and pipelines at 0.7 percent.
The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.6 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.
On October 28, 2013, at a competitiveness conference in San Diego, officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States praised NAFTA for establishing “a new global standard for economic integration” and reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining and enhancing prosperity throughout the continent.
“By demonstrating that increased trade drives job creation and economic growth, we have set a valuable example globally and have built a solid foundation upon which North American competitiveness can continue to be enhanced to the benefit of all our citizens,” they said in a joint statement.