Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

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North America by the Numbers

by Shannon K. O'Neil
October 21, 2014

Oil Pipelines Pipelines carrying steam to wellheads and heavy oil back to the processing plant line the roads and boreal forest at the Cenovus Energy Christina Lake Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) project 120 km (74 miles) south of Fort McMurray, Alberta, August 15, 2013. Cenovus currently produces 100,000 barrels of heavy oil per day at their Christina Lake tar sands project (Todd Korol/Courtesy Reuters).


How much do Canada and Mexico matter for the United States? Here are a few snapshots illustrating the importance of our combined global heft and influence.

  • North American countries are joined by 7,500 miles of land borders, among the longest in the world.
  • Though comprising less than 7 percent of the world’s population, Canada, Mexico and the United States produce nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP—some 20 trillion dollars.


  • North America is the world’s largest biofuel producer, accounting for nearly half of global ethanol and biodiesel production.
  • The United States, Canada, and Mexico produce nearly 20 percent of the world’s oil and 27 percent of the world’s natural gas.
  • Forty-eight natural gas pipelines connect United States, Canada, and Mexico.
  • In 2012, the region invested more than $250 billion in exploration and production of oil and gas, and experts predict that number could grow to half a trillion dollars annually by 2016.
  • In 2013, Mexico sent 85 percent of its crude oil experts north—making Mexico the United States’ third-largest oil supplier, behind only Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Economic Competitiveness

  • Over the last 20 years, North American regional trade grew from $300 billion to $1.1 trillion.
  • Nearly half of all North America’s total exports traded between the three neighbors. Mexico and Canada, in fact, sell more than 75 percent of their exports within North America.
  • The value of U.S. exports to Mexico and Canada is twice the value of exports to the European Union, and five times the value of its exports to China.
  • Since NAFTA’s start, regional trade in services rose by nearly 200 percent—to well over $100 billion a year.

The People of North America

  • Some thirty-four million Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, and more than three million Canadians and Canadian-Americans live in the United States.
  • Mexicans and Canadians are the largest groups of tourists entering the United States: a combined 34 million visitors each year contribute an estimated $35 billion to the U.S. economy.
  • In recent years, net migration of Mexicans to the United States has dropped to zero.

If you would like to learn more, read CFR’s new Independent Task Force: North America: Time for a New Focus.

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