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Monthly Update: Foreign Trade

March '20
Published on 5/14/20
Monthly Update: Foreign Trade

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The Houston-Galveston Customs District handled 93.6 million metric tons of goods and commodities in the third month of ’20, a 26.5 percent increase over the comparable period in ’19. These shipments were valued at $59.2 billion, up 7.3 percent from ’19. Total trade did not go down in March despite the restrictions due to the coronavirus. Individual trade with different countries, however, was impacted to various extents.

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

Houston exported to 189 countries and imported from 167 during the first three month of ’20. Mexico remains the region’s top trading partner, followed by Brazil, the Netherlands, South Korea and China. As a consequence of economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus, China was pushed down all the way to fifth place with Germany and United Kingdom following closely.

Compared to March ’19, exports increased in both volume and value in ’20, driving the increase in overall value and weight. Imports decreased by 8.2 percent in value and slipped 2.3 percent in weight.

During the first three months of ’20, the district handled goods and commodities from 97 trade categories―everything from gasoline to live animals to cork. The top five exports, accounting for 84.3 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 61.0 percent of all imports by value, were crude and refined products, industrial machinery, motor vehicles, iron and steel and electric machinery.


Berina Suljic Cologlu
Analyst, Research

Patrick Jankowski, CERP
Senior Vice President, Research


Foreign Trade International Business Key Economic Indicators
$59.2 billion

Houston handled $59.2 billion of shipments year-to-date.

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