Southbound border traffic up according to recent numbers

By Oliver Lazenby

From August to October 2017 more people crossed at Blaine from Canada than during the same period the year before, according to the latest data from Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute (BPRI).

In October, the most recent month for which the BPRI has data, 707,863 crossed southbound at Blaine at the Peace Arch and Pacific Highway crossings, a 9.2 percent increase over 2016, when 648,057 people crossed at Blaine.

That hasn’t happened in several years, said Laurie Trautman, BPRI director. Southbound border crossings into Blaine started declining in 2013, when the Canadian dollar began dropping in value compared to the U.S. dollar.

Trautman said she’s not sure why southbound border crossings increased this time, and she’s not sure if the numbers are significant.

“I don’t think I could give you a good explanation for why,” she said.

However, Trautman pointed out that populations on both sides of the border are growing, and the numbers could reflect that.

Trautman said she doesn’t expect the trend to continue, but she wouldn’t be surprised if unforeseen events impact the number of Canadians coming south in 2018.

“All things constant, I would expect 2018 to look very similar to the last two years,” she said. “The U.S. and Canada have a pretty stable relationship, but if something like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) goes away I think there will be some unforeseen consequences. It is a volatile time; I really do believe that.”

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