Top 25 Metro Areas Increase Exports by 21 Percent

March 7, 2012

Elizabeth Clark is a Senior Economist in the Office of Industry Analysis within the International Trade Administration

In 2010, merchandise trade exports to the world for the 377 (only 369 areas are available due to Federal disclosure regulations) U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) totaled $1.13 trillion, with merchandise exports from non-metropolitan “rural” areas totaling an additional $151.5 billion. Since the launch of the President’s National Export Initiative, merchandise exports from MSAs have increased 15.4 percent over the 2009 U.S. export figure of $975.7 billion.Top 25 metropolitan export markets for 2010

Although the value of U.S. exports is concentrated in the top metropolitan areas, exporting is an important economic driver in nearly every metropolitan area. In 2010, more than one-third of U.S. metropolitan areas exported more than $1 billion in merchandise to the world. Eight of these metropolitan areas exported merchandise worth more than $25 billion with a further 19 metropolitan areas exporting more than $10 billion.

Among the top 25 MSA exporters, merchandise exports increased 21 percent between 2009 and 2010. This growth rate was consistent across the three largest metropolitan area exporters: New York up 22 percent, Houston up 22 percent and Los Angeles up 21 percent.

Fourth-ranked Detroit leads metro areas in terms of growth, with 55 percent due mostly to the substantial recovery of the auto industry, as Detroit’s exports of transportation equipment grew 62 percent in 2010 to reach nearly $29 billion.

Trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA-DR have had a positive impact on exports from MSAs. While agreements with even the smallest countries may have only a marginal impact at the national level, these agreements can have a large impact at the local level when a metro area has geographic proximity and economic or cultural ties to a particular country or region.

For example, the Central American Free Trade Agreement or CAFTA-DR is a region where the U.S. has an agreement and close trading relationship with six countries, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. U.S. merchandise trade with these six countries totaled only $24.3 billion in 2010, less than 2 percent of total U.S. merchandise trade. However, the CAFTA-DR markets represented a significant share of exports for a number of MSAs. The CAFTA-DR markets represented more than 5 percent of exports for 20 MSAs with these areas concentrated in the Southeast United States. The largest of these areas was Miami, Florida, where exports to the CAFTA-DR region totaled $3.8 billion, representing 11 percent of Miami’s exports to the world. Miami actually exports more to the six nations of the CAFTA region than it exports to our NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico combined.

Trade agreements will be increasingly important to small U.S. metropolitan area as the latest agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama enter into force. Agreements like these will further help to strengthen the export potential for U.S. firms.

Find more information on MSA exports, including data and fact sheets for the top 50 exporting MSAs in 2010 is available on the Office of Industry Analysis home page.

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