Auto Parts top Michigan Exports, Imports

In Michigan, parts and accessories related to transportation-particularly those related to automobiles and trucks-were the top 10 commodities both imported and exported between 2012 and 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In total, the U.S. percent share of commodities Michigan exports is less than the U.S. percent share it imports, however neither have risen above 5.5 percent since 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2015 Michigan exported $25.1 billion worth of transportation equipment, ranging from rear view mirrors to engine ignition spark plugs. In total though, according to the International Trade Administration, Michigan exported $54 million worth of goods in 2015. Canada, a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partner, received the largest amount of commodities. In 2015 Canada received about $23.5 million worth of goods; this is equivalent to about 44 percent of the goods exported from Michigan. Mexico, also a NAFTA partner, was second to Canada in exports; in 2015 about $11.8 million worth of goods was exported to Mexico. Canada and Mexico were the only two countries who received more than $4 million worth of exports from Michigan in 2015, according to the International Trade Commission.



Of the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in Michigan the Detroit-Dearborn-Warren area had the highest dollar value of exports at $44.3 billion, according to the International Trade Administration. That $44.3 billion translated into 68.5 percent of the state’s share of exports. Of the data available, the Lansing-East Lansing MSA had the lowest percent share of exports at 1.3, which was equivalent to $852 million.

Of the six of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for which data was available (no data for Washtenaw County), Wayne County had the highest value of goods exported in 2015 at $21.2 billion; Livingston County had the lowest at $570 million.




The U.S. percentage of imports reached a new peak in 2015 at 5.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Since 2012, Michigan’s share of U.S. imports has steadily risen from 5.1 percent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, of the top 10 goods imported into Michigan, crude oil from petroleum is one of only two items on the list that is not directly labeled as a part related to transportation vehicle (transmission, ignition, etc.). The other good listed is seat parts related to medical chairs.

Imports from Canada ranked above all other countries as the leading source of imports to Michigan. In 2015, 36.8 percent of the goods imported into Michigan were from Canada; 35.4 percent of goods imported into the state were from Mexico. The country with the third largest percentage that Michigan imported from was China at 7.4 percent.Slide09


The data presented in this post shows that Michigan’s imports and exports are still heavily linked on the auto industry, and the majority of the goods exported from the state are produced in the most populous region of the state. This region, the Detroit-Dearborn-Warren MSA, is located within miles to Canada and connected via a bridge and a tunnel.

Both in terms of exports and imports, this post also shows that Michigan has the strongest relationships with its NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico. One of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises has been to re-negotiate the agreement. Both Trump, a Republican, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell agree that NAFTA has harmed workers and factories. Recently, Rep. Dingell and Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio introduced a resolution seeking a renegotiation of NAFTA to reduce the trade deficit, according to a Feb. 20 Michigan Radio article.

That resolution can be read here.

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