Monday, July 26, 2010

Portland and Exports

Just how important are exports to the Portland economy?  Very. This is from a new Brookings Institution report on metropolitan areas export activities.

Sudeep Reddy in the Wall Street Journal's Econ Blog writes about the report:

The Obama administration wants to double U.S. exports in five years. But most of the nation’s metropolitan areas aren’t properly equipped to ramp up export sales, says a new Brookings Institution report.

Metro areas need a “re-education” about the value of exports, said Bruce Katz, who authored the report with Emilia Istrate and Jonathan Rothwell of the think tank’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “There’s a weird disconnect in this country,” Katz said in an interview. In other major exporting nations, “there really is a natural translation of national policy to metro implications.”

Like many other studies, the Brookings report to be released Monday says exports can be a key source of U.S. growth and job creation. And it concludes that the federal government needs to push harder on negotiations around exchange rates, trade agreements and enforcement of existing trade laws.

But it also offers recommendations specific to local and regional concerns: 1) Federal and state governments should give metro areas support on export promotion, innovation through research and development, freight planning and data-collection policies. 2) Metro leaders must improve their exporting abilities and learn from the few metro areas that actually developed and implemented successful export strategies.

The report quantifies for the first time the level of export production (in both goods and services) in the top 100 U.S. metro areas, along with profiles for each area showing key industry sectors for exports and growth rates.

The top five:

New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA (led by chemicals)
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA (computer and electronic products)
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI (machinery)
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (chemicals)
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (computer and electronic products)

The study also found that four metro areas doubled the inflation-adjusted value of their exports over a five-year period from 2003 to 2008, before the downturn hit. (The Obama administration goal calls for doubling the nominal value of U.S. exports over five years from their low point in 2009.) The four areas: Houston, mostly through sales of chemicals; Wichita, Kan., through its aviation sector; Portland, from computer and electronics products; and New Orleans, from oil refining. [emphasis mine]

Hmmm...this sounds a lot like the stuff I have been pushing save for the lack of emphasis on education (though the R&D stuff usually happens in partnership with universities). Here is the report on Portland. As I have mentioned many times Oregon is well above average in terms of states that rely on exporting abroad (not surprising give our west coast location perhaps) but this is also true of Portland. The logical assumption was this was true, but it is nice to see hard data.

Here are some interesting graphs and charts from the report.  These show the outsized relative importance of exports to Portland (fitting for a city named Portland I suppose).

This shows the absolute importance of trade to Portland.

Here is where it all goes.

Interestingly, the share of stuff going to China is quite a bit lower than in the state as a whole. I am not entirely sure what explains this (I have not dug into the data deep enough) but I suspect timber products and agriculture.  I am also surprised that as much computer and electronic manufacturing is going to Mexico and Canada as China.  But there you are - this is why it is nice to have facts to talk about.

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