Metropolitan Areas Are Trade Hubs in North America

A discussion of trade usually considers links between continents, countries, provinces and states. These days, metropolitan areas are increasingly recognized as the main drivers of trade. The Brookings Institute recently released a ground-breaking study on trade among metropolitan areas with populations of at least 100,000 in Canada, the United States and Mexico, for 2010. The report includes a virtual interactive map and profile on Greater Montréal.

Greater Montréal


With $45.5 billion in trade for 2010, Greater Montréal ranks very highly and is one of the top trading partners of major US centres such as New York City, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle.

The study also reveals that trade in high technology sectors between Montréal and US metropolitan areas exceeds that with most Canadian cities. While the aeronautics industry — a true powerhouse of Montréal’s economy — provides the best example, the volume of trade in electronics, machinery and heavy equipment, pharmaceuticals and transportation equipment is also very high.

As service industries are not included in the study, certain key sectors of the Montréal economy are not taken into consideration. This is the case for information and communications technologies and financial services — areas in which Greater Montréal is a world leader. Metropolitan Montréal thus performs even better in the main North American trade corridors than the Brookings Institute study would indicate.

For Greater Montréal, this tool enables us to identify US agglomerations and industries in which Québec-based industries have a high profile, and to refine prospecting targets to attract new US investors to Montréal.

A note about methodology:

• Based on existing data on merchandise trade in North America, trade flow estimates in US dollars for 2010 are based on three elements: 1) the database identifying the origin and destination of traded goods; 2) border crossings; and 3) import and export estimates for each US metropolitan area.

Philippe Valentin

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