Iowa's Trade Relationship With Canada

Students in grades 6-8 will use this resource to guide them in researching the general topic of trade between the United States and its neighbors to the north, with particular attention to the effects of such trade on Iowa. In doing so, students will gain skills in the concepts from the Iowa Core Curriculum as listed below.

Canada is Iowa's leading trade partner, accounting for $6.5 billion in exports and imports each year. Trade with Canada is responsible for over 78,000 jobs in Iowa. Understanding the relationship with our North American neighbors is vital to the economy of both Iowa and the United States. The student might ask, "How do the physical environment and resources of Canada enhance the trade relationshi[p with Iowa?" "What are the economic effects on Iowa of free trade with Canada?" "If trade were unavailable with Canada, where might we import those resources from instead?"

Iowa Core Curriculum Essential Concepts and Skills:

Social Studies
Economics: Understand factors that create patterns of interdependence in the world economy. Specifically,
  • Understand the impact of imported and exported goods and services in the local economy.
  • Understand the concepts of free trade and trade barriers.
  • Understand trade barriers imposed by the United States from a historical perspective and the impact of those actions.
  • Understand the interdependence of America and other regions of the world in terms of imports and exports.
  • Understand balance of trade and trade deficits and their impact on the price of goods.
  • Understand that the increased interdependence of the world market causes economic conditions in one country to affect others.

Reading: Use a variety of skills and strategies to comprehend nonfiction and informational text.

Writing: Engage in the information literacy process: access, evaluate, and communicate information and ideas. Incorporate technology as a tool to enhance writing.

21st Century Skills
Financial Literacy: Demonstrate ethical financial decision making skills and assess how these decisions might impact the broader community. Specifically,
  • Recognize the local, state, national, and international impact of personal financial habits and actions.
  • Identify the factors that impact the production of goods and services beyond the local area.

Technology Literacy: Collaborate with peers, experts, and others using interactive technology; plan strategies utilizing digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information; use critical thinking skills to conduct research, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate technological tools and resources.

Data Analysis/Statistics and Probability: Analyze and summarize data sets, including initial analysis of variability.

Life Science: Understand and demonstrate knowledge of the social and personal implications of environmental issues.

All resources and call numbers are located through UNI's Rod Library, unless otherwise noted.

Dewey Decimal areas in which to search:

Look in these areas of the reference section of your library for information on this topic:

Social Science: 300’s
310 General statistics
317 General statistics Of North America
330 Economics
331 Labor economics
332 Financial economics
337 International economics
380 Commerce, communications, transport
382 International commerce (Foreign trade)

Literature and rhetoric: 800’s
807 Education, research, related topics

Geography & history: 900’s
907 Education, research, related topics
912-Graphic representation of earth
970 General history of North America

Search Terms:

The following are possible search terms to use in your research:

Trade, Exports, Imports, Free Trade, International Trade, World Economy, Global Economy

As you narrow your focus, try using more specific search terms:

Tariffs, NAFTA, Free Market, Iowa, Canada

Experiment using Boolean terms. For example,

Trade AND Iowa AND Canada
NAFTA OR trade AND Iowa


This comprehensive resource will give you a great starting place for your research. It will briefly cover a wide range of topics, which you can then narrow down and research more specifically in other resources. Use the following encyclopedias to access general knowledge about Iowa, Canada, and Economics:

Britannica Online School Edition. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010). Find it through UNI's Rod Library, Databases A to Z.

The homepage of this online resource has links to "Discover America" and "Discover Canada" where you can find statistical information about the states and provinces. There are also links to a dictionary and thesaurus, which are helpful for looking up unfamiliar terms as you research.

World Book Encyclopedia. (World Book Inc., 2009). YR 013 W at Rod Library or online as noted below.

The World Book Encyclopedia is available in print at the library, as well as online. Complete the following steps to access the online version:

  2. Click on World Book Web in the left margin.
  3. Choose World Book Student under the World Book Web heading.
  4. When prompted for a username and password, use the entries supplied to you by your school.

You may search your subject alphabetically in the print version, or use the index. This will help you find the correct volume, as well as point you to other useful search terms. In the online version, you may enter your search term in the "Search" field on the left or use the "Other Ways to Find it" links on the right.


Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language (Merriam-Webster, Inc.,2002). 423 Web

Use this dictionary to help you look up possible search terms, as well as to assist you with the meanings of any unfamiliar terms you may encounter in your research. Entries are listed in alphabetical order.


Goode's World Atlas (Rand McNally, 2005). YR 912 G

Use this atlas not only to find locations, but also to access many statistical tables and charts, including some on economics and trade.

Biographical Source:
You may want to find information about a specific person who influenced Iowa economics. Two good sources to look in are:

Newsmakers (Gale, 1009). J920.009
Current Biography Yearbook (H.W. Wilson Co., 2009). R 920 Cur

Subject Encyclopedias and Almanacs:
Once you have decided on a theme and then researched possible focuses, it is helpful to turn to more specific publications for detailed information. These resources include subject encyclopedias and almanacs. The following titles will be helpful in your research:

Iowa's Numbers: 150 Years of Decennial Census Data With a Glance to the Future (Iowa State University, 2008). REF HA375.G679 2008

Encyclopedia of the Global Economy (Greenwood, 2006). REF HF1359.028 2006

Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations (Gale/UXL, 2007). YR 910 J

Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy (Scribner, 2002). R 327.73 ENC

The Encyclopedia of Iowa (Somerset Publishers, 2000). R 977.7 ENC

"U.S. Census Bureau - About the Foreign Trade Program." Census Bureau Home Page. Web. 13 Nov. 2010.

This website has an abundance of statistical information on foreign trade, including that with Canada.


To become more familiar with the state of Iowa and our neighbors to the north, Canada, consider reading these informational and beautifully illustrated books:

Wagner, Jay. H is for Hawkeye. Boulder, CO: Trails Books, 2003. Y 977 W

Ulmer, Mike. M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2003. JN 971 ULM at the Clive Public Library.

This book tells the story of a young girl whose step-father loses his job in Saskachawan and moves to Nevada. The story shows what it's like to not just move across town, but to a different country!

Horvath, Polly. Northward to the Moon. New York: Schwartz and Wade Books, 2010.

Magazine Articles

Shors II, J. "Is NAFTA Working for Iowa?" Des Moines Business Record, 93(23), 16(1997): Retrieved from EBSCO Regional Business News database Nov. 6, 2010.

Peterson, J. "Iowans Ponder the Future Under NAFTA: Now What?" Des Moines Business Record, 89(46), 8(1993): Retrieved from EBSCO Regional Business database Nov. 6, 2010.

EBSCO is an excellent place to look for magazine articles on your topic. EBSCO is accessible through most schools' AEAs as well as public libraries. Once you get to the EBSCO main page, you can search in specific databases. For this topic, I chose Business/Economics Databases.

Using Boolean terms and the filters in the left margin, you can mine down to find articles specific to your needs. For example, I entered "NAFTA" and "Iowa", selected a date range, chose "periodicals" as my source type, and then limited the search to "Regional Business News."


Newspaper Articles

Mihalakis, Bryan, "U.S. Policy on Columbia, NAFTA Needs 2nd Look: Competition Forces Farmers Off Their Own Land," Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA), April 11, 2004: Retrieved from LexisNexis on November 7, 2010.

Keen, Judy. "White House Works 'To Heal' Labor Wounds / But NAFTA Won't Easily Be Forgotten," USA Today, November 23, 1993: Retrieved from LexisNexis on November 7, 2010.

If your topic is one that occured fairly recently, the Des Moines Register would be a good source for finding information particular to Iowa. However, if the article you need is more that 30 days old, there is a fee to view and print it. ProQuest allows you to access articles as far back as 2002. You can search ProQuest through UNI's Rod Library or Urbandale Public Library. Another valuable database available through Rod Library is LexisNexis. This site searches a huge number of publications in a variety of categories.

ProQuest, the Des Moines Register:
LexisNexis Academic:

Streaming Video

NAFTA has had a huge impact on both Iowa and Canada. This video shows the political arguments and the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement established in 1992.

NAFTA and the Global Markets. PBS/WGBH. 2002. Retrieved November 6, 2010, from Learn 360.

Learn360 is accessible through . Search terms include Canada, subcategories Social Studies, Economics.

Where Else Can I Find Information?

Your teacher-librarian of course! My responsibility is to help you find the information you need. See me about searching for materials in other libraries, other online databases not listed in this pathfinder, as well as live experts that might be able to answer your questions.