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U.S. says North American trade by truck, rail and pipeline fell in December

MONTREAL – Canada and its NAFTA partners capped an otherwise strong year of trade in 2012 with a weaker performance in December, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday.

Trucks, railways and pipelines carried US$71.9 billion worth of products in December, a 3.2 per cent drop from the same month in 2011.

Canada and the United States, which account for nearly 60 per cent of all surface trade in North America, saw trade decrease 4.7 per cent to US$42.1 billion in the month. The value of imports and exports was US$46.7 billion in November.

For the full year, North American trade grew 6.2 per cent to US$960.1 billion, from US$904.1 billion in 2011. Over the past two years, trade has grown by 21 per cent as the effects of the 2008 and 2009 recession have eased.

Surface transportation with Canada and Mexico accounted for 17 per cent of all U.S. foreign trade in December. Trucks moved US$48 billion worth of good, followed by rail (US$14 billion) and pipelines (US$6 billion).

Between Canada and the United States, goods carried by trucks fell five per cent to nearly US$25 million, railway cargo increased by five cent to US$8.6 million and lower oil exports cut pipeline trade by 19 per cent to US$5.4 billion.

Michigan led all U.S. states with US$5.6 billion of trade in December, primarily vehicles and other parts. It was followed by Illinois, California and Ohio.

Oil and gas products led Canadian exports to the U.S. at US$6.5 billion, followed by vehicles, computer-related machinery, electrical machinery and plastics. Vehicles and computer-related machinery led imports.