Study finds drop in cross-border trade

Published on Wed, Feb 17, 2010
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An analysis just released of economic activity along the U.S.-Canadian border likely reflects the impact of economic recession and tighter border controls, as the value of trade between the two nations dropped 9 percent in 2008 and auto and truck traffic declined nearly 5 percent.

These and other findings on the flow of goods and people across the northern border are presented in the “Border Barometer,” a joint publication of the Border Policy Research Institute (BPRI) of Western Washington University and the University of Buffalo (UB) Regional Institute.

The report also provides a snapshot of economic activity for eight ports of entry, including at Blaine.

“This issue of the Border Barometer explores U.S.-Canadian economic engagement overall, but also reveals important trends in regional variation, thereby laying the foundation for better decision making at all levels,” said David Davidson, associate director of the BPRI.

According to the Border Barometer, the 9 percent decline in trade volume in 2008 is a story closely tied to the economic recession, and particularly the decline in the auto industry.

Detroit and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, the two heaviest crossings for manufactured goods, saw sharp declines in trade, falling 20 percent and 11 percent, respectively, between 2007 and 2008.

Moreover, truck traffic at all ports including Blaine experienced sharp declines during this time period. Car traffic fell at all ports for the peak period of July through December between 2007 and 2008.

Blaine saw a major dropoff in imports such as wood products, which likely reflects the recent decline of U.S. housing construction.

Rail exports, however, were up in 2008 for all eight ports, pointing to the potential of this transportation mode for future commercial exchange.

The BPRI’s Border Policy Brief series can be found at