International Focus Magazine Vol. 4, #1 - Page 33

A International trade is an engine propelling the Houston region’s economy and trade is soaring As of Sept. ’18, exports from the Houston/Galveston customs district are up more than 32.9 percent. This is on top of more than 19 percent export growth for the region in ’17 where more than $109 billion was exported globally. Exports in the first three quarters of ’18 nearly equal all exports for ’17. Imports have also seen robust growth in ’18 with an increase of more than 12.9 percent. This brings the Hous- ton region’s growth in total trade (exports + imports) to more than 24 percent as of Sept. ‘18. Compared to other major metros, Houston’s strength in trade is evident. ing Houston’s 32.9 percent growth include Chicago (11.8 percent), New York City (9.4 percent), Boston (7.2 percent) and Los Angeles with only 2.8 percent export growth. In April 2016, the Greater Houston Partnership launched the Houston Metro Export Plan which has con- vened Houston’s export ecosystem more than a dozen times since in- ception. The MEP Working Group has held Export Resource Forums at City Hall and the Partnership -as well as other key places in the region over the last two and a half years. Foreign-owned firms continue to open factories and offices here. Over- Houston has had the strongest export seas investors have acquired billions growth of any major metro in the U.S. of dollars in local real estate. Houston so far in ‘18 outpacing Dallas which welcomes three to four trade delega- has seen export growth of only 3.4 tions every week. And a score of dig- percent this year. Other metros trail- nitaries, ambassadors and ministers from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America visit Houston frequently to promote closer ties. As of our last annual count, forty- one foreign-owned firms opened or expanded operations in Houston, up from 25 in ’16. JSW Steel (Mumbai) announced hundreds of millions in investment in its Baytown steel mill. Lonza (Basel) has opened the world’s largest cell and gene therapy facility in Pearland. And the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Bei- jing), the largest bank in the world by total assets, recently established a branch office in the Uptown/Galle- ria area. Since January ’15, the start of the energy downturn, well over 100 foreign-owned firms have selected Houston for corporate expansions, relocations and startups. The Greater Houston Partnership iF Magazine | 33