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How Closely is Your State Economy Tied to Canada?



How Closely is Your State Economy Tied to Canada?

How Closely is Your State Economy Tied to Canada?

With negotiations around NAFTA continuing on into this week, many Americans are rightfully wondering how major changes to the deal could impact their lives.

Discussions are still early, and it’s tough to predict the exact policies that will be affected until negotiations reach their peak. However, until that point, there is one simple barometer that can give you an idea of how you may be affected: how much business does your state do with Canada, and how much is with Mexico?

States Tied to Canada

Today’s visualization from focuses specifically on how close each state economy is tied to Canada.

Using a flow diagram, it breaks down $544.9 billion of bilateral trade into the imports and exports of states, ranked by the total amount of goods sent or received from their neighbors to the north.

Here’s a breakdown of the states that export the most to Canada, both in percentage terms and dollars:

Exports to Canada, by %Exports to Canada, by $
RankStateExports (%)RankStateExports ($)
#1North Dakota82.5%#1Michigan$23.7B
#6Ohio39.0%#6New York$15.0B
#8South Dakota37.1%#8Pennsylvania$10.0B

On average, 15.0% of all U.S. international trade is with Canada – but as you can see above, some states are clearly more reliant on this trade than others.

To put this in wider perspective, here’s a map we published as a part of a post on the world’s closest trade relationship. It shows that Canada is the top international destination of exports for 36 different states:

US exports top international destination by state

Imported from up North

Canada also sends a great deal of goods to the United States, as well.

The following states are the ones that import the most goods from Canada, and any changes to NAFTA could potentially impact these supply chains. If prices increase through tariffs, these businesses would have to either suck up the additional costs, or seek alternative inputs from other places.

Imports from Canada, by %Imports from Canada, by $
RankStateImports (%)RankStateImports ($)
#4North Dakota53.2%#4New York$17.6B
#6New Hampshire49.6%#6Washington$12.6B
#8South Dakota35.1%#8Pennsylvania$10.0B
#10Oklahoma29.9%#10New Jersey$7.3B

Putting it Together

In percentage terms, northern states like North Dakota, Maine, Michigan, Vermont, and Montana are the most reliant on Canada for international trade both ways.

In many of those states, Canadian trade also tends to be large as a percentage of Gross State Product (GSP): Michigan (15%), Vermont (14%), Montana (9%), North Dakota (8%), and New Hampshire (7%) are the most affected using this criteria. Meanwhile, states like Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Maine each trade with Canada for 6% of their total GSP value.

By using dollars as a metric, Michigan is the state that will be impacted the most – it imports $48.3 billion, while exporting $23.7 billion to Canada.

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Visualizing California’s GDP Compared to Countries

California’s GDP makes the state one of the most powerful economies in the world. This graphic compares it to the GDP of 10 select countries.



How California's GDP exceeds ten select countries

How California's GDP exceeds ten select countries

California’s GDP Compared to Countries

Comedian Trevor Noah once said America is fifty little countries masquerading as one.

From an economic sense, this might carry some truth. When looking at the economic output of each state, especially the largest and wealthiest ones, they often compare to or even exceed the GDPs of entire nations.

To illustrate, this visual from StatsPanda looks at California’s $3.36 trillion GDP using data from The World Bank and compares it to 10 sizable country economies. Let’s take a closer look.

Sizing Up California’s GDP in 2021

California’s $3+ trillion GDP is an enormous figure in its own right, so it’s no surprise that it is larger than certain nations’ economic output.

But even when comparing with economies like Malaysia, Colombia, and Finland, all among the top 50 countries by GDP, California stands tall.

CountryGDP (2021 USD)
🇲🇾 Malaysia$372B
🇭🇰 Hong Kong$369B
🇻🇳 Vietnam$366B
🇮🇷 Iran$359B
🇵🇰 Pakistan$348B
🇨🇱 Chile$317B
🇨🇴 Colombia$314B
🇫🇮 Finland$297B
🇷🇴 Romania$284B
🇨🇿 Czechia$281B

What’s more, these 10 countries are quite densely populated, with a combined population of 653 million compared to California’s 39 million total.

A Closer Look At California’s Economy

What makes California’s GDP so vast and their economy so powerful?

Relative population is a big factor, as the state is the most populous in the U.S. with roughly 12% of the country’s population calling it home. But since California’s GDP makes up over 15% of the country’s economic output, there must be something else at work.

One key driver is the technology sector. Not only does Silicon Valley generate massive amounts of technological output, this also translates directly to wealth and economic activity. Many tech markets follow winner-take-all dynamics, bringing large revenues back to the state. In addition, smaller technology companies are frequently gobbled up by larger competitors, adding wealth back into the mix through M&A.

This might partly explain why California’s GDP is actually estimated to overtake Germany’s in the coming years and become the world’s 4th largest economy.

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