When the U.S., Canada and Mexico implemented the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, it opened the door for open trade by ending tariffs on various goods and services and creating an even playing field for the three markets. Today, agricultural goods such as eggs, corn and meats; manufactured products such as auto parts; and raw materials such as steel and lumber flow freely across the borders, primarily by truck and rail.

The U.S. exported more than $280 billion in goods to Canada in 2011, making its northern neighbor the largest source for outgoing products.  U.S. imports, at more than $315 billion, make Canada the second-largest source of inbound goods after China.

Exports to and imports from Mexico set record highs in 2011, with exports reaching $198.4 billion and imports hitting $262.9 billion.

The combined $1.1 trillion in combined trade among the three partners make NAFTA the second-largest trade bloc in the world, second only to the 27-member European Union.

News & Analysis

Making Christmas ornaments in a maquiladora.
15 Apr 2014
JUAREZ, Mexico — Each Christmas ornament or mannequin that is shipped from here to major U.S. retailers is a sign of Mexico’s growing competitive edge with China.
12 Jan 2014
At a recent supply chain conference, Bradley S. Jacobs heard a “financially compelling” case for investing and doing business in his country from former Mexican President Felipe Calderón. “Mexico is positioning to chip into China’s status as one of our major trading partners,” said the chairman and CEO of XPO Logistics.
Kansas City Southern Mexico intermodal train
01 Oct 2013
Rising costs for truckers in Mexico will drive more U.S.-bound freight from highways to rail networks, fueling strong intermodal growth, a Kansas City Southern Railway executive told the JOC Inland Distribution Conference.
Mariposa port of entry
30 Sep 2013
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is finalizing talks with five entities to allow some U.S.-Mexico shippers to fund additional Customs and Border Protection staffing during busy times or for extended hours as part of a pilot project.
U.S. Cross-Border Imports from Mexico. Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics
30 Sep 2013
U.S. cross-border traffic with Mexico via truck and rail jumped 8.1 percent in July 2013, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Both imports and exports via these modes of surface transportation were up year-over-year for the first time since April.
Arizona border crossing
29 Jul 2013
A federal court again rejected challenges to the U.S. cross-border trucking program with Mexico, which has seen traffic increase this year but remains small.

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Commentary

The ‘giant sucking sound’ of jobs moving south that Ross Perot so famously forecast would be NAFTA’s calling card isn’t the case at all 20 years after the agreement was enacted.