Houston Metro Area Tops US Export Market Report

Export Market
AP File Photo/David J. Phillip

HOUSTON, Texas — The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland metropolitan area is the largest export market in the United States. This is according to a Department of Commerce International Trade Administration report that just released the 2014 Metropolitan Merchandise Export figures.

The greater Houston metropolitan area is the largest export market in the United States. The total merchandise exports are $119 billion as of 31 Dec 2014, a 3.5%, $4billion increase over 2013. The top export sectors in millions of dollars as follows: Computer & electronic products 6%, $7,196; oil & gas extraction 10.5, $12,455; Machinery except electrical 12.7%, $15,113; chemicals 25.4%, $30,243; and petroleum & coal products 29.3, $ 34,799.

Our top export markets are Mexico in millions of dollars 14.6%,  $ 17,405; Canada 11.8%,$14,097; Brazil 6.4%, $7,634; China  4.9%, $5,771, and Netherlands 4.5%, $5,405. Share of merchandise exports to Transpacific (TPP) is 37% and 12% to transatlantic (T-TIP) members.

Small and medium business’ share of the Houston MSA (metropolitan statistical area) exporters in 2012 (less 500 employees) is 93%. Share of Texas exports accounted for by Houston MSA in 2014 is 49%. 12,433 companies exported from Houston MSA in 2012.

In 2014 Houston benefited from existing trade agreements exporting 47.1% of merchandise exports to (FTAs) free trade agreement partners. In 2014 Houston exported $31.5 billion in goods to the NAFTA region and $3.2 billion in goods to the CAFTA-DR region.

Counties from the Houston metropolitan area that reported 2014 exports included: Harris County $100 billion, Galveston County $ 9.1 billion; Ft Bend County 3.3 billion; Montgomery County $3 billion; Brazoria County $3 billion; Chambers County $378 million; Liberty County $90 million; Waller County $68 million; and Austin County $59 million. Harris County is the US County with the most exports.

These export metropolitan figures are the best in the United States, but what are the factors which could slow the rate of export growth?

First, the US Congress has refused to fund the EXIM Bank, which was one of the few US government agencies which made the US government money. A substantial part of the EXIM Bank funding dealt with exports to Mexico.  How will the loss of the EXIM Bank impact US trade with Mexico?

Second, there are aggressive US government moves to implement a Trans-PacificPartnership free trade agreement (TPP). There is considerable US labor union and US manufacturing resistance to the TPP. The argument is such an agreement will export the US manufacturing base to Asia with abundant cheap labor. It will result in a loss of US manufacturing jobs as US businesses relocate overseas. On the other hand it will give US consumers access to cheap goods.

Third the Panama Canal is being expanded to accommodate larger ships. Can Houston metropolitan area secure the funds to widen and deepen the Houston Ship Channel to deal with the larger ships?