NAFTA Trade Is Up, Truck Freight is Down

Trade with US North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico was valued at $69,423 million in May, the third month in a row for increases, according to the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. For the first five months of 2007 trade climbed 2.4% to $324,522 million.

Imports for all surface modes grew by 11.6% year over year and exports were up 5.4% By mode, imports by truck were up 10.5%, exports 2.9%; rail imports grew 13.0%, exports 19.8%; and pipeline exports were down 33.7%. (Figures for May 2006 pipeline imports were not available.)

Top ten states trading with Canada by surface modes of transportation are 1. Michigan 2. Illinois 3. New York 4. Ohio 5. California 6. Texas 7. Washington 8. Pennsylvania 9. Indiana 10. Minnesota.

Top ten states trading with Mexico by surface modes of transportation are 1. Texas 2. California 3. Michigan 4. Arizona 5. Illinois 6. Ohio 7. Tennessee 8. Indiana 9. Wisconsin 10. Pennsylvania.

For-hire truck tonnage fell 1.3% in May, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), and it dropped another 0.1% in June. Although the US economy grew at an annualized 3.4% clip for the second quarter of the year, trucking was not a beneficiary of that gain. Bob Costello, ATA chief economist noted that the tonnage index fell 1.8% during the second quarter from the first and it was 3.2% lower for the same quarter year over year.

Three reasons Costello cites for the decline, include that transportation’s goods economy that doesn’t count services but does count imports—unlike the government’s calculations—grew at just a 2.6% rate. Second, Costello notes that housing is down significantly, pulling on the trucking as well as the economy overall. Third, manufacturing continues to shrink on a year over year basis.

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