NAFTA Trade Data – SLC States, Canada and Mexico

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The Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) has studied the centrality of the Southern region’s economic integration with Canada and Mexico since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) originally was implemented in 1994. After NAFTA’s implementation, the SLC published multiple analyses related to the trade agreement’s impact on the region, including The Influence of the North American Free Trade Agreement on Economic and Social Programs Supported by State Governments in the SouthThe North American Free Trade Agreement: Changing Economic and Social Programs of Southern States; and NAFTA ’95: A Report Card. The historical context provided by data in SLC’s various publications is essential to understanding the extent to which regional trade has been influenced by NAFTA, and the ways in which it could be impacted if the trade agreement is significantly modified in the months ahead.

As officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States attempt to renegotiate NAFTA’s stipulations, it is instructive for policymakers to understand the current position of SLC states with regard to the export and import of goods with Canada and Mexico, prior to any overhaul of the expansive agreement. Canada and Mexico are important trading partners for SLC member states, meaning any disruption to trade as a result of renegotiation could have significant ramifications across state economies, including in the agriculture, automotive and manufacturing industries.

Since NAFTA’s implementation in 1994, trade between the SLC region and Canada and Mexico has changed dramatically. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, national exports and imports to/from Mexico increased by 455 percent and 637 percent, respectively, between 1993 and 2016. Meanwhile, exports and imports to/from Canada increased 165 percent and 150 percent, respectively, during the same period.

Exports to Mexico, in particular, have risen exponentially across the region, with Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina all experiencing increases of more than 500 percent between 1993 and 2016. With the exception of Oklahoma, where exports to Mexico have risen by approximately 82 percent since 1993, every state in the region has seen an increase of at least 125 percent.

As a percentage of their total exports, SLC states likewise have increased the amount of trade to Mexico. Across the region, the percentage of all exports to Mexico averaged 7.2 percent in 1993, compared to 11.9 percent in 2016. 

Exports to Canada between 1993 and 2016 have increased in every SLC state, from a low of 12 percent in Oklahoma, to a high of 262 percent in Louisiana. However, as a percentage of total exports, several SLC states, including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee, export less to Canada than they did in 1993. Across the region, the percentage of all exports to Canada averaged 21.5 percent in 1993; in 2016, it dropped slightly to 19.5 percent.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Mexico now is the first or second most important export market for Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, and it is among the top five export markets for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Canada is the top export market for Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. For all remaining states in the region, Canada is among the top three export markets.

Imports from Canada and Mexico also have a major impact on economies across the SLC region. With the exception of Louisiana, Canada and/or Mexico are among the top five importers for every SLC member state.

Across the SLC region, the total value of exports and imports to/from Canada and Mexico in 2016 was approximately $378 billion, representing more than one third of the national total.


NAFTA Trade Data - SLC States, Canada and Mexico