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3 maps show why NAFTA is so important to the US

Andy Kiersz
President Trump welcomes Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the South Lawn before their meeting about the NAFTA trade agreement at the White House. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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  • The North American Free Trade Agreement makes it easier for businesses to export and import goods and services between the US, Mexico, and Canada.
  • President Donald Trump has frequently spoken against the trade agreement, and US negotiators have taken a hard line in NAFTA renegotiations, putting the future of the agreement in question.
  • Trade with Canada and Mexico is a billion-dollar industry in most states, and a US departure from NAFTA could have a serious negative impact on those states.


One of President Donald Trump's biggest foils on the campaign trail last year and in his first year in office is vitally important to the economies of many states.

The North American Free Trade Agreement is a 24 year old pact between the US, Canada, and Mexico that lowers tariffs and makes it easier for goods and services to flow across the three countries' borders.

Trump has frequently criticized the agreement, often calling it "the worst trade deal in history." Meanwhile, the current round of NAFTA renegotiations has been rocky, with US trade representatives making harsh demands that their Canadian and Mexican counterparts are reportedly not happy with.

But in spite of Trump's fiery rhetoric and his administration's moves, trade with Canada and Mexico is a big part of not just the US economy as a whole, but of the individual economies of many states, including several that voted for Trump last year. The US leaving NAFTA would almost certainly dampen exports to America's neighbors, and that could seriously hurt manufacturing, farming, and other industries across the US.

Business Insider recently looked at each state's biggest international trading partners as measured by value of goods exported and imported in 2016. America's NAFTA partners show up prominently on this map — 33 states exported more goods to Canada than any other country, while seven states had Mexico as their biggest export partner.

export countries state map

Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

Trade is a big part of many states' economies, and billions of dollars of exports could be at stake in the ongoing NAFTA talks. One way to look at regional impacts is the value of each state's exported goods to Canada and Mexico in 2016, as measured by the US Census Bureau.

In the case of Canada, exports in 2016 ranged from about $9 million worth of goods made in Washington, DC to about $23.7 billion in Michigan:

canada exports by state

Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

Exports to Mexico are also a billion dollar business in most states, with goods export values ranging from about $2 million in Hawaii to a whopping $91.7 billion in Texas:

mexico exports by state

Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from US Census Bureau

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SEE ALSO: Every US state's most important international trading partners