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Import/Export Partners by State

Import/Export Partners by State

| June 11, 2019

One of my favorite economist's had an interesting blog post on June 3rd that I wanted to share with you.  Like most economists, he dislikes tariffs, to the point that he refers to our President as “Tariff Man.”


Maps of the day: Every US state’s top international trade partners in 2018, now at risk from Tariff Man’s trade war

Although the situation is currently at great risk due to Tariff Man’s various trade wars, international trade with the rest of the world is a vital part of the U.S. economy and has a positive impact on each of our 50 states.  Last year, American companies sold $2.5 trillion worth of goods and services to buyers in other countries, and American companies and consumers purchased $3.1 trillion worth of imports from trading partners all around the world.  Together that volume of international trading activity ($5.6 trillion) represented 27.7% of the value of America’s $20.2 trillion in GDP in 2018. In terms of employment, nearly 36 million American workers (nearly one-in-four) have jobs that are directly supported by our trade with the rest of the world.  Eleven US states have more than one million jobs directly supported by international trade, led by California (4.4 million), Texas (2.9 million), New York (2.3 million) and Florida (2.2 million). Many of those jobs are now potentially at risk from Trump’s escalating trade war.

The two maps above show each US state’s top country trade partners in 2018, based on the total dollar value of merchandise exports and imports from and to each state last year according to Census Bureau data.  More than one-third (38.2%) of U.S. trading activities took place last year with our top three trade partners – Canada, Mexico and China ($2.1 trillion in combined trade activity out of $5.6 trillion total trade) – and that’s why you see so much blue (Canada), grey (Mexico) and pink (China) on the maps.  For two-thirds of US states (33 out of 50), Canada is the biggest export destination country for their goods, and nearly half (23 out of 50) of US states purchase more imports from China than any other country. Trade with Canada, Mexico and China is extremely vital to the US economy in general and specifically to many individual US states, see recent CD post “How important is trade to state economies?  Pretty important for most US states, putting them at risk from the trade war.”

It’s also increasingly the case that U.S. imports generate U.S. exports, since the U.S. is now deeply-integrated into international, cross-border supply chains for inputs, parts, supplies, and final products.  For example, Michigan’s top import trade partner for the last three years has been Mexico, which supplies automakers with billions of dollars of car parts annually. After final assembly, many thousands of cars are exported from Michigan to Canada, the state’s top export trade partner.

Bottom Line: America’s economy and job market, and the country’s overall standard of living, are enhanced and strengthened by trading with the rest of the world.  Tens of thousands of jobs in every U.S. state are supported by our growing global trade activity, 11 states have more than a million trade-related jobs, and roughly half of our states have half-a-million or more jobs supported by international trade.  Trump’s protectionist-mercantilist trade war has the potential to jeopardize economic growth and U.S. jobs in every state by distorting global chains and raising costs for American consumers and businesses. Given the economic importance of trade with China, Canada and Mexico to so many US states, the current tariffs and senseless trade war are putting state economies at great risk of reduced economic growth and increasing job losses.”


Mr. Perry makes valid points, but we need to keep the macro view in mind.  As I have posted on these pages before, in my opinion, America needs to level the playing field with the rest of the developed world.  We have been supporting and rebuilding them courtesy of Bretton Woods since WWII. Also, we can no longer afford to allow bad actors like China to steal our intellectual property.  Property rights are fundamental to liberty and prosperity.

Until next time, cheers!