Our neighbors get 30% of Pittsburgh region's international trade

Lucrative deals cut

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Twenty years after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a study by the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., reports 30 percent of the Pittsburgh region's international trade is done with Canada and Mexico.

In 2010, the region's total trade with the two countries represented $6.2 billion of its total $21 billion in international trade. The researchers took a look at data from 2010 but did not compare it to other time periods, such as before the trade agreement was enacted.

Overall, the Pittsburgh metropolitan area ranked 25th in trade volume out of the top 100 metropolitan regions in the country, the researchers found.

Businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania sold $726 million worth of metals to Canada, $362 million of machinery and tools, $345 million in chemicals and plastics, and $192 million worth of electronics.

Exports to Mexico were significant but smaller than those to the neighbor to the north, with Pittsburgh-area companies sending $373 million in metals, $232 million worth of chemicals, $174 million worth of electronics and $165 million in machinery and tools.

Joseph Parilla, a research analyst for Brookings and one of the report's authors, said the trade snapshot shows that the region is benefiting from the opportunity to do business with cities across the borders. "Pittsburgh has a ton of metals, and they need to find trading partners to use those metals," he said.

Metals accounted for the top commodity exported from this region to both countries.

In return, the Pittsburgh region bought $174 million in electronics from Mexico and $502 million worth of energy from Canada.

Within Canada, Pittsburgh's largest trading partner was the Toronto region, which accounted for $672 million in goods traded. Within Mexico, Pittsburgh's biggest trading partner was Mexico City, with which it had $382 million in trade.

Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.


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