Value of goods crossing U.S. border 23% below record

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Updated Nov 19, 2010

Goods valued at more than $735 billion crossed the U.S. border in trade with Canada and Mexico in 2009, 23.7 percent lower than the record high set in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. U.S. merchandise trade with Canada and Mexico, its two largest trading partners, rose by more than $24 billion or by 3.3 percent in the five years between 2004 and 2009.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, released the data on Thursday, Nov. 18, as part of the sixth annual update of the North American Transportation Statistics online database, which contains the most comparable transportation-related data available from the United States, Canada and Mexico in a one-stop online resource. The NATS database is co-sponsored by BTS and the U.S. Census Bureau with the federal-level transportation and statistical agencies of Canada and Mexico.

The value of freight shipments moving between the United States, Canada and Mexico grew at an average rate of 0.7 percent per year between 2004 and 2009. The total value of U.S. freight shipments with Mexico grew 14.6 percent or 2.8 percent annually. Goods shipped in trade with Canada declined 3.5 percent or 0.7 percent annually.

Trucks carried 62 percent of this freight measured by value, $455 billion in 2009. Rail carried 13 percent, followed by maritime with 8 percent, pipeline with 7 percent, and air with 5 percent. Truck was the largest modal decrease in shipment value from 2008 to 2009 – $100 billion, followed by rail, down $45 billion, and pipeline, down $39 billion.

Data in the NATS database shows America’s top gateways for trade with Canada and Mexico. In 2009, Laredo, Texas, was the top road gateway, with $79.8 billion in international road shipments passing through that gateway.

The NATS-OD figures show, among other things, the importance of the various modes of transportation involved in the movement of goods between Canada, Mexico and the United States, and presents statistics indicating the relationships among transportation, international trade, economy, security, energy and the environment. Additionally, the NATS-OD incorporates technical and methodological footnotes in English, French and Spanish to provide users with interpretation and analysis.

A product of the North American Transportation Statistics Interchange established in 1991, the NATS database provides three-country comparative information on transportation activity and its impact. It covers the following subject areas: country overview, transportation and the economy, transportation safety, transportation’s impact on energy and the environment, domestic freight activity, North American merchandise trade, international merchandise trade, domestic passenger travel, North American passenger travel, international passenger travel, transportation infrastructure and vehicles.

As of this year, NATS-OD includes a new indicator on the fuel efficiency of new vehicles. This new indicator was developed in response to the need for harmonized data to support environmental and transportation decision-making at national and trilateral levels. With text available in English, French, and Spanish, the NATS database can be found at