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August 31, 2021

Texas leads in export trade in 2021 due to unique factors

At mid-year 2021, Texas leads the nation in export trade — with $171.9 billion as of June 2021. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows that Texas has been the nation’s No. 1 state for exports for the past 19 years.

But did you know that Texas export trade, as of June 2021, exceeds the $165.2 billion sum of the next three largest states combined? California came in second with export trade of $86.1 billion; New York had $42.7 billion; and Louisiana had $36.3 billion, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis in a report released Aug. 5.

Texas increased its export trade by more than 60%  from June 2020 and significantly exceeded the 2020 year to date trend by more than 25%. The United States as a whole saw an increase in the month export trade of more than 40% and exceeded the 2020 year to date trend by more than 22% from June 2020.

Despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BEA report shows that the United States is strong in exports — and the state of Texas continues to lead the country for more than 19 years at mid-year 2021.

What drives Texas’ historical success in export trade?

The answer could be a combination of unique factors that other states simply cannot replicate.

These factors include Texas’ 16 seaports, including 11 deep water ports with channels at least 30 feet deep, 33 Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ), its location at the U.S. border with Mexico, its proximity to the Panama Canal and more miles of public roads and freight rail than any other state,.  Add to that our explosive population growth over the past decade, and you have a recipe for tremendous trade success. Texas is the #1 destination for relocating California corporate interests, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Texas has been welcoming entrepreneurs, CEOs and innovators from other states and other countries for decades, and these diverse new Texans are contributing to a Texas-sized drive for excellence and innovation.

Texas really is like a ‘whole other country’

Because of its unique attributes, Texas is a premier location for businesses and foreign direct investment. But its proximity to trade routes, its regulatory environment, energy industries and other such factors aren’t the only thing Texas has going for it.

In mid-August, a delegation of senior staff from the British Consulate in Houston visited several cities in Texas including Odessa and other Permian Basin locations to promote investment opportunities between Texas and the United Kingdom. With exports from Texas to the UK totaling more than $9.6 billion in 2019, Texas and the UK have already established a leading, global trade relationship.

Britain’s consul-general in Houston, Richard Hyde, cites Texas’ vast and diverse population as key to promoting Texas as trading partner with the UK. During the August tour, Hyde wanted the delegation to get outside of the state’s metro areas to meet business owners and economic development organizations looking for new partnership opportunities.

“Texas is like a country,” Hyde told the Odessa American on Aug. 17. “It’s a country-size state with close to 30 million people. It’s diverse. Every region of Texas is a little diverse. There’s a huge Hispanic population. There’s a lot of immigration from south Asia and east Asia. There’s a real mixture of people across the state. My job is to find out what drives people and what makes business work. You really have to go and meet people to understand that.”

Texas undoubtedly has many business-friendly attributes that other states can’t replicate through mere shifts in their tax, regulatory and other economic development-related policies. But the state’s most valuable asset is its workforce, its entrepreneurs and business leaders, and the dedicated Economic Development Organizations across the state working hard to bring like minds together. Texans work together to leverage a diversity of ideas and perspectives to innovate and adapt to the world’s changing markets.

Robert Allen is President and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corporation (TxEDC). TxEDC’s mission is to promote Texas as the premier state to locate or expand the business and to offer insight and key resources to advisers and decision-makers. Follow Robert and TxEDC on Twitter at @GoBiginTexas.

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