Metro North America: Cities and Metros as Hubs of Advanced Industries and Integrated Goods Trade

Twenty years after the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement,
advanced manufacturing sectors extend their supply chains across
the United States, Mexico, and Canada,
anchored by metropolitan hubs in all three countries.

Select a metro area

Select a Commodity


Trade flow direction



Click any metro area to select it (narrow the number of metro areas by searching above)


Click any commodity to select it


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No Trade for this Selection

Total trade between {{firstcity}} and:

Canada: {{pdat.toCA|numformatting:'dollmill'}}{{pdat.toCArnk|numformatting:'rankContext':metIsUS}}

Mexico: {{pdat.toMX|numformatting:'dollmill'}}{{pdat.toMXrnk|numformatting:'rank':metIsUS}}

The U.S.: {{pdat.toUS|numformatting:'dollmill'}}{{pdat.toUSrnk|numformatting:'rankContext':metIsUS}}

North America: {{pdat.toNA|numformatting:'dollmill'}}{{pdat.toNArnk|numformatting:'rank':metIsUS}}

North American trade accounts for {{pdat.toNAsh|numformatting:'times100'}} percent{{pdat.toNAshrnk|numformatting:'rank':metIsUS}} of {{firstcity|numformatting:'possessive'}} total global trade.

What can the data in this interactive tell us?

The largest North American trade flows

When choosing "All metro areas" (the default) as your metro area selection, the map will depict the largest trade flows between metro areas in the United States, Mexico, and Canada (where a U.S. metro area is either an importer or exporter).

By selecting different commodities, you will see how the biggest nodes of production and consumption in North America vary by what is being produced and consumed.

Each metro area's largest trading partners

Selecting a metro area (by searching in the menu or clicking on the map) will reveal that metro area's largest trading partners. As described above, this often changes dramatically by the commodity you are viewing. In addition, when viewing data for a specific metro area, you can view the map by "trade flow direction"—export flows from the selected metro area, imports to the area, or total trade to and from the metro area.

Sources & methods

The trade flows depicted here represent value as of 2010, in U.S. Dollars. To estimate trade flow, Brookings worked with the Economic Development Research Group (EDR) to create a database that assigns data on national goods trade to metropolitan areas. The database does not attempt to quantify flows between Canadian and Mexican metropolitan areas. For more on methodology, see the report associated with this interactive.

Advanced industries are defined here as trade in aircraft and spacecraft, electronics and electrical equipment, machinery, motor vehicles and parts, pharmaceutical products, and precision instruments.

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  • Metropolitan areas in the United States, Canada, and Mexico contain 77 percent of the three countries’ total population but generate 86 percent of their combined GDP. These 432 metropolitan areas with populations of at least 100,000 generate even higher shares of national and continental output in key advanced manufacturing sectors—aerospace, automotive, electronics, machinery, pharmaceuticals, and precision instruments.
  • U.S. metropolitan areas traded $512 billion in goods with Canadian and Mexican metropolitan areas in 2010. This total represented a majority (58 percent) of the $885 billion in goods traded between the United States and Canada/Mexico. Twenty-five U.S.-Canada metro pairs, led by New York and Toronto ($3.7 billion), and 15 U.S.-Mexico metro pairs, led by Los Angeles and Mexico City ($2.2 billion), each traded more than $1 billion in goods in 2010.
  • Advanced industries—aerospace, automotive, electronics, machinery, pharmaceuticals, and precision instruments—account for 47 percent of goods trade in North America, and metro areas account for 69 percent of trade in advanced industries. For the most technologically advanced goods, including aerospace, electronics, and pharmaceuticals, at least 75 percent of North American trade occurs among metro areas. More than three-quarters of advanced-industries trade with Mexican and Canadian metro areas originates or terminates in non-border U.S. metro areas.
  • Goods trade in key advanced industries binds distinct sets of metropolitan areas across North America. The top 20 North American metro areas for automotive, electronics, and aerospace trade account for 15 percent, 18 percent, and 40 percent, respectively, of total trade between the United States and Canada/Mexico in those commodities. The largest trading relationships involve Detroit and Toronto in automotive, San Jose and Mexico City in electronics, and Seattle and Montreal in aerospace.