One statistic that is under-reported by the media is the impact that U.S. metropolitan areas have on exports. In 2012, the Commerce Department reports, 50 metropolitan areas exported more than $1.35 trillion of merchandise, an increase of $43 billion from the previous year and the third consecutive year of growth.
This amount would have placed the 50 metro areas in the top five global exporting countries in 2012, at number four behind Germany ($1.40 trillion) and right ahead of Japan ($799 billion), according to the World Trade Organization.
Total U.S. exports in 2012 were $2.2 trillion, based on Commerce Department figures that were updated last May.
Houston, with $110 billion of exports, ranked number one among the metropolitan areas, while the New York City metro area was second at $102 billion.
The emergence of these areas as export powerhouses could be of interest to procurement officers for the reshoring opportunities they provide in sourcing industrial and other goods and thus maintaining supply chain control. If nothing else, they highlight important areas of manufacturing and economic activity.
NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada were the top destinations for the exports last year. In just one area, metro Detroit, the Commerce Department reports that companies exported $20.2 billion of goods to Mexico and $16.8 billion to Canada, many of which likely made their way back to the U.S. in a range of finished products.
Proximity to export markets is a major factor for many of the exporting metro areas. The Motor City is, of course, right across the Detroit River from Windsor, Ont. Los Angeles and San Diego and five areas in Texas are among the top 10 metro area exporters to Mexico.
Even the Washington, D.C., metro area, which includes southern Maryland and northern Virginia, is increasing exports, with levels up 43 percent in 2012.
Almost one-half of the metro areas accounted for at least 40 percent of their states’ total export activities in 2012. Three — Seattle, Detroit, and Boise, Idaho — generated over 70 percent of their respective states’ export business, while Burlington, Vt.; Honolulu; and Salt Lake City (along with San Juan, P.R.) accounted for more than 80 percent.