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Monthly Update: Foreign Trade

Sep '20
Published on 11/23/20
Monthly Update: Foreign Trade

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The Houston-Galveston Customs District handled 254.5 million metric tons (“MT”) of goods and commodities in the first nine months of ’20, a 3.4 percent increase over the comparable period in ’19. These shipments were valued at $145.1 billion, down 16.9 percent from ’19. The coronavirus has continued to affect both global and domestic economic activity. During the first nine months of ’20, Houston’s top import, crude and refined products, decreased in weight by 1.1 percent compared to the same period in ’19, from 37.0 million MT to 36.6 million MT. However, the value decreased by 36.2 percent, from $16.9 billion to $10.8 billion.

Houston ranked first in total tonnage and sixth in overall value of shipments among U.S. customs districts during the first nine months of ’20. Houston and New Orleans have been the busiest two customs districts in tonnage for decades. Houston has held the top spot in nine of the past 12 years.

Houston exported to 212 countries and imported from 207 during the first nine months of ’20. In ’19, the U.S.-China trade war nudged China from second to third place among Houston’s top trading partners. However, during the first nine months of ’20, China became Houston’s #1 trading partner, overtaking Mexico and Brazil. South Korea and Germany rounded out the top five.

Compared to the first nine months of ’19, export tonnage rose 17.3 percent, whereas while the value of exports fell 13.0 percent. Imports decreased by both measures, slipping 8.5 percent in weight and 23.5 percent in value.  

During the first nine months of ’20, the district handled 97 categories of goods and commodities―everything from gasoline to live animals to cork. The top five exports, accounting for 82.5 percent of all exports by value, were crude and refined products, organic chemicals, plastics, industrial machinery and motor vehicles. The top five imports, accounting for 57.4 percent of all imports by value, were crude and refined products, industrial machinery, electric machinery, motor vehicles, and iron and steel.

 

Heather Duran
Manager, Research
713-844-3654
hduran@houston.org

Patrick Jankowski, CERP
Senior Vice President, Research
713-844-3616
pjankowski@houston.org

 

Foreign Trade International Business Key Economic Indicators
$145.1 billion

Houston handled $145.1 billion of shipments year-to-date.

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