NAFTA trade totals reach record levels in 2011 at $904 billion

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Surface transportation trade between Canada, the US and Mexico increased by 14.3% in 2011 compared to 2010, valued at $904 billion in 2011, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the US Department of Transportation. The 14.3% increase in trade was the third largest year-to-year increase for the years covered by these data. The $904 billion in trade was the highest amount since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994.

BTS reported that total North American surface transportation imports increased by 13.8% in 2011 from 2010, and exports increased by 14.8% during the same period.

US-Canada land trade declined 28.1% in 2009 from 2008, and then increased by 39.2% in the next two years to reach a level in 2011 that was virtually unchanged from 2008.

In 2011, 85.5% of US merchandise trade by value with Canada and Mexico moved on land. Total North American surface transportation trade is up by 42.0% since 2009, when US-NAFTA trade fell to a recent low during the last recession. In 2009, US-NAFTA trade dropped by 23.3% from the previous year.

US-Canada surface transportation trade totalled $537.0 billion in 2011, an increase of 14.0% compared to 2010. The value of imports carried by truck was 10.0% higher in 2011 than 2010 while the value of exports carried by truck was 12.4% higher. The value of pipeline exports increased the most, rising 87.0% in 2011 compared to 2010. Part of this increase is explained by a rise in the price of oil, with the average annual price for a barrel of crude oil increasing from $71.21 in 2010 to $87.04 in 2011.

Michigan led all states in surface trade with Canada in 2011 with $68.4 billion. Automotive vehicles accounted for $41.3 billion, 60.3% of total Michigan-Canada surface trade. Of the top 10 states for US-Canada surface trade in 2011, Minnesota had the highest percentage change over 2010, a 41.6% increase. Oil and gas is the top commodity traded between Minnesota and Canada, but 16 of 99 commodities more than doubled in the value of Minnesota-Canada surface trade between 2011 and 2010. 

The top commodity category transported between the US and Canada by surface modes of transportation in 2011 was vehicles and vehicle parts (other than railway vehicles and parts) with $96.1 billion in trade. This US-Canada trade in vehicle and vehicle parts was roughly split evenly between exports and imports, reflecting the interdependency of automotive plants on both sides of the border.

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