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North American surface trade up 6.2% year-over-year in 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Trade using surface transportation modes between Canada, the US and Mexico increased by 6.2% in 2012 compared to 2011, valued at $960 billion in 2012, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the US...


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Trade using surface transportation modes between Canada, the US and Mexico increased by 6.2% in 2012 compared to 2011, valued at $960 billion in 2012, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the US Department of Transportation. The $960 billion in surface mode trade was the highest annual amount since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994.

BTS reported that US imports by surface mode increased 5.6% in 2012 from 2011, while surface-based exports increased 6.9% during the same period.

During the recession period of December 2007 to June 2009, US trade carried by surface modes to and from Mexico declined less than trade with Canada and also rebounded faster. The value of US-Mexico surface trade declined 14.4% in 2009 from 2008, and then increased by 61.0% in the next three years to reach a level in 2012 that was 37.8% higher than in 2008. The value of US-Canada surface trade declined 28.% in 2009 from 2008, and then increased by 44.2% in the next three years to reach a level in 2012 that was only 3.6% higher than in 2008. As a result, US-Mexico trade comprised 42.1% of North American surface freight trade in 2012, compared to 35.3% in 2008.

In 2012, 86.5% of US merchandise trade by value with Canada and Mexico entered or exited the country by surface mode of transportation. Total North American surface transportation trade is up by 50.8% since 2009, when NAFTA trade fell to a recent low during the recession. In 2009, NAFTA trade decreased by 23.3% from the previous year.

US-Canada surface transportation trade totalled $556.2 billion in 2012, an increase of 3.6% compared to 2011. The value of goods transported by rail had the largest year-to-year increase. Imports carried by rail were 7.4% higher in 2012 than 2011 while the value of exports carried by rail was 11.8% higher. The value of pipeline imports and exports decreased, dropping 4.3% and 2.3% respectively in 2012 compared to 2011. 

Michigan led all states in surface trade with Canada in 2012 with $73.3 billion and vehicle parts accounted for $45.2 billion, 61.7% of total Michigan-Canada surface trade. Of the top 10 states for US-Canada surface trade in 2012, California had the highest percentage change over 2011, a 16.5% increase. The increase in California-Canada surface trade was led by a 41.5% increase in vehicles and vehicle parts, the largest commodity by value in California-Canada surface trade.

The top commodity category overall transported between the US and Canada by surface modes of transportation in 2012 was vehicles and vehicle parts (other than railway vehicles and parts) with $107.4 billion in trade. US-Canada trade of this commodity group was split roughly even between exports and imports, reflecting the interdependency of automotive plants on both sides of the border.


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