Tonnage surplus in U.S. trade with Mexico confirmed

by Truck News

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – An extensive analysis of U.S. government data has confirmed a longstanding surplus with Mexico in terms of rail tonnage and a growing truck tonnage surplus over the past three years, transportation intelligence provider FTR said Thursday.

The report is based on data published by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the company said.

“The U.S. rail sector has run a significant surplus of tonnage into Mexico for years, but U.S.-Mexico truck tonnage had been more balanced until 2016, when the U.S. trucking sector posted its first meaningful surplus since 2008,” FTR said.

As for truck loads, the U.S. runs a deficit of about 800,000 a year, it said.

FTR said rail movements into and out of Mexico represent about 3.2% of all U.S. rail moves, and that portion has grown steadily since 2009. Excluding intermodal, U.S.-Mexico traffic represents about 5.5% of total U.S. rail moves, and that number has nearly doubled since 2009, it said.

The company estimates that truck loads into and out of Mexico make up just 1.5% of all U.S. truck loadings, but that share has risen by about 50% since 2009.

“Rail is more exposed than truck even though it has a smaller portion of overall crossborder freight,” said Eric Starks, chairman and CEO of FTR.

The U.S. goods trade deficit with Mexico is about $80 billion. President Donald Trump has threatened successively higher tariffs on Mexico, starting June 10, if the country fails to take steps to curb illegal border crossings.

“With China continuing to be problematic, we know that there had been some shifting of sourcing to Mexico, so potential tariffs on Mexican imports raise important questions,” said Starks.

“Either we lose this freight, see increased costs, or both.”


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