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WASHINGTON, DC-Surface transportation trade among the North American Free Trade Agreement partners rose 5.3% in August compared to July, according to the most recent figures from the Department of Transportation. But the $53 billion total was nonetheless down 24.9% from the equivalent figure last year of just under $71 billion. The news gave analysts hope that the overall situation is improving in that this was the first time in eight months that year-over-year monthly declines did not top 27%.

In regard to the US alone, truck imports fell 19.8% from a year earlier to $18.4 billion, while truck exports fell 16.1% to $20.1 billion. Rail imports plummeted 35.4% to $5.4 billion, while exports suffered an even steeper drop of 35.7% to $3.1 billion. Pipeline imports fell 49.3% to $4.1 billion, while exports plunged 59.9% to $147 million.

On a country-by-country basis, surface trade between the US-Canada tumbled 29.6% to $32.9 billion, with the value of Canadian truck imports to the US falling 26.1% and the value of truck exports falling 17%. US-Mexico trade fell by a much smaller amount, dropping 16.2% to $21.3 billion, with the value of truck imports falling 13.5% and exports falling 14.7%.

Though still negative, the monthly changes for August showed improvement over the changes for July. The US-Canada total, for example, was up 6% from the $31 billion July total, while US-Mexico trade was up nearly 4% from the $20.5 billion. The August differences for US trade with both neighboring countries were also smaller than a month earlier, when US-Canada trade fell 33.9% in July on a year-over-year basis, while US-Mexico trade fell 17.1%.

According to the Department of Transportation, about 90% of US surface trade with Canada and Mexico moves by land rather than water or air.

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