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How $1 trillion of North American freight crosses borders

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Staff Writer | March 4, 2017
All five major transportation modes carried a share of the more than $1 trillion in freight that crossed the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico in 2016.
Cargo truck
Cargo   Bureau of Transportation
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Based on the value of the freight, trucks carried most – 65.5 percent – a higher share than a year earlier and a decade earlier in 2006.

Rail (15.5 percent), vessel (5.5 percent), pipeline (4.6 percent) and air (3.9 percent) carried the remaining share of cross-border freight.

Trucks carried 53.5 percent of the $278.1 billion of 2016 imports from Canada, followed by rail, 21.1 percent; pipeline, 13.6 percent; vessel, 4.1 percent; and air, 4.0 percent.

The numbers changed somewhat from a decade earlier. In 2006, trucks carried 49.4 percent of the $303.4 billion of imports from Canada, followed by rail, 20.8 percent; pipeline, 17.8 percent; vessel, 5.3 percent; and air, 2.8 percent.

On the southern border, trucks carried 72.5 percent of the $294.2 billion of 2016 imports from Mexico, followed by rail, 16.5 percent; vessel, 6.2 percent; air, 2.4 percent; and pipeline, 0.1 percent.

In 2006, trucks carried 63.8 percent of the $198.3 billion of imports from Mexico, followed by vessel, 19.6 percent; rail, 13.0 percent; air, 2.1 percent; and pipeline, less than 0.1 percent.

Trucks carried 67.1 percent of the $266.0 billion of 2016 exports to Canada, followed by rail, 11.2 percent; air, 5.6 percent; pipeline, 3.0 percent; and vessel, 2.5 percent.

In 2006, trucks carried 71.4 percent of the $230.3 billion of exports to Canada, followed by rail, 9.8 percent; air, 6.9 percent; vessel, 2.2 percent; and pipeline, 0.9 percent.

On the southern border, trucks carried 69.1 percent of the $231.0 billion of 2016 exports to Mexico, followed by rail, 12.4 percent; vessel, 9.6 percent; air, 3.8 percent; and pipeline, 1.6 percent.

In 2006, trucks carried 69.3 percent of the $134.2 billion of exports to Mexico, followed by rail, 12.9 percent; vessel, 7.5 percent; air, 5.5 percent; and pipeline, 0.5 percent.

Detroit was the top crossing on the northern border for truck freight by value in 2016 while Laredo was the top crossing for truck freight by value on the southern border.

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