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Report: Houston's Strong International Ties Elevate Local Economy Despite Global Challenges

Published May 20, 2022 by Brina Morales

Patrick Jankowski, Partnership's SVP of Research, delivers highlights from the 2022 Global Houston report

Patrick Jankowski, Partnership's SVP of Research, delivers highlights from the 2022 Global Houston report

Despite factors ranging from global inflation to the Russia-Ukraine war, key indicators show Houston’s ties to the global economy are strengthening. That’s according to a new analysis released by the Greater Houston Partnership in its Global Houston report

The analysis documents how Houston’s international activity in 2021 set records as other sectors showed signs of improvement:

  •  The Houston-Galveston Customs District now handles more tonnage (over 351.5 million metric tons in 2021) than it did prior to the pandemic.
  • COVID-19 had a short-lived impact on Houston’s exports. Exports topped $140 billion last year, well above the previous record of $128.7 billion set in 2019.
  • Foreign direct investment (FDI) continues to improve. The Partnership documented 26 business expansions from companies headquartered overseas in 2021, up from 13 in 2020. That number is still short of the typical annual average of 30 to 40 such announcements. 
  • The poor job market, international travel restrictions, and anti-immigrant rhetoric continues to slow the flow of newcomers from abroad, but Houston should see an uptick in international migration this year. Immigration added only 12,500 new residents to Houston’s population in 2021.
  • International air traffic continues to edge closer to pre-pandemic levels. The Houston Airport System handled 7.3 million international passengers in 2021, up from 3.9 million handled in 2020 but below the pre-COVID peak of 12.0 million in 2020.  

The pandemic caused the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Two and a half years later, COVID-19 no longer appears to be a top risk for economic growth. But there are other issues driving concerns. According to the report, economic damage from the Russian invasion of Ukraine is contributing to a slowdown in global growth and adding to inflation. However, several indicators demonstrate strong momentum in Houston, including the region’s strong economy, increased industrial production, a manufacturing PMI reading above 50, and tight labor markets. 

“The most likely scenario is for slower growth, perhaps a recession in Europe, but a slowdown in the global economy is unlikely to nudge Houston into recession this year,” said Partnership Senior Vice President of Research Patrick Jankowski. 

Other data included in the report reflects Houston’s influence as a global business hub: 

  • Houston has trading relationships with more than 200 countries.
  • The Houston-Galveston Customs District ranked first in tonnage handled (exports and imports) in 2021, a position it’s held 11 of the last 15 years. The district ranked fifth in value of shipments (exports and imports) last year, up one from 2020.
  • The value of exports via the district have exceeded imports since 2013.
  • Over 1,700 foreign-owned firms have an office, factory, distribution, or service center in Houston. 
  • Nearly 150 Houston-headquartered companies operated subsidiaries outside the U.S. 

Another section of the Global Houston report provides additional statistics and information about Houston’s international business ties and ranks the region’s top 20 trade partners. The value of goods and services traded increased among all leading partners in 2021, bouncing back from the losses in 2020.

Top 10 Houston trade partners and the value of trade in 2021: 

  1. China -- $24.7 billion, up from $19.3 billion in 2020. 
  2. Mexico -- $21.6 billion, up from $14.5 billion in 2020. 
  3. Brazil -- $16.9 billion, up from $12.0 billion in 2020. 
  4. Korea -- $16.2 billion, up from $9.5 billion in 2020. 
  5. India -- $13.9 billion, up from $8.0 billion in 2020. 
  6. Netherlands -- $13.8 billion, up from $9.5 billion in 2020.
  7. Germany -- $11.9 billion, up from $9.5 billion in 2020.
  8. Japan -- $11.5 billion, up from $7.7 billion in 2020.
  9. United Kingdom -- $9.8 billion, up from $7.6 billion in 2020.
  10. Colombia -- $7.1 billion, up from $5.3 billion in 2020.

 

 

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City of Houston, Greater Houston Partnership Lead Mission to France to Grow Business and Cultural Ties

6/27/22
HOUSTON (June 27, 2022) - The City of Houston and the Greater Houston Partnership are leading a trade and investment mission to Paris, France this week.  The mission will focus on promoting Houston as a leader in innovation, energy transition, and education while enhancing key government and business relationships between the Houston region and Paris.  Targeted business sectors include energy and innovation with ties in Houston and France. The delegation has several scheduled meetings with high-level government officials and representatives.  The Houston-Galveston Customs District is the fourth busiest gateway for U.S.-French trade, and France is Houston's sixth-largest European trading partner. From 2012 to 2021, trade between Houston and France averaged $4.2 billion annually and was valued at $5.5 billion in '21. "Our priority is to build a more robust trade relationship between Houston and France, and this trip is an essential mission to enrich Houston's ties with France and explore new business opportunities that will enhance our local economy with jobs and investments," Mayor Sylvester Turner said. "As a city of innovation, we value France - based businesses with established operations in our city and welcome others to explore the opportunities for investment, business development and tourism available in Houston. Our delegation will expand on Houston's global city status that makes Houston strong and unique." Mayor Sylvester Turner, who was scheduled to lead the delegation, will remain in Houston to attend to a personal matter. Vice Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Castex Tatum, who chairs the City Council Economic Development Committee, will handle business meetings and cultural events scheduled during the weeklong mission. "I am excited about the opportunity to represent Houston in Paris officially. The mission will put Houston in the international spotlight, capturing our city's role as a leader in innovation, aerospace, energy transition, and education. When we position ourselves to build international business ties, the entire city can potentially benefit through jobs and growth in our economy," said Vice Mayor Pro-Tem Castex Tatum. On Monday, the delegation joined Valerie Baraban, the Consul General of France in Houston, on a tour of the Musée d'Orsay. The museum's leadership visited Houston in 2019 to build local relationships. The delegation also attended a Bilateral Business Trade and Investment Forum with the Paris Chamber of Commerce. They spoke about Houston leading in startup ecosystems throughout the energy and medical sectors. The first day of the trade mission will end with a meeting with the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy to discuss energy, technology and trade between Houston and Paris. "As Houston works to lead the global transition to an energy-abundant, low-carbon future, the exchange of ideas and information with innovative cities around the world is critical," said Susan Davenport, Chief Economic Development Officer at the Greater Houston Partnership. "We are excited to lead a business delegation alongside the City of Houston that will get the opportunity to see first-hand what is happening in energy and innovation with organizations in Paris. As the leading export market in the U.S. and a major hub for foreign direct investment, international business is a significant and growing part of our economy, and we look forward to productive meetings that we hope will spur further investment and trade activity for our region."  Houston's Business Ties with France  Twenty-five Houston firms operate 46 subsidiary locations in France, including Baker Hughes, Hines, Huntsman, NOV, and Schlumberger. Sixty-three French firms operate 112 subsidiaries in the Houston area, including Air Liquide, Arkema, EDF Trading North America, Engie North America, and Total Petrochemicals & Refining. Trade and cultural relationships with France are facilitated in Houston through the Consulate General of France, the French American Chamber of Commerce, the French Trade Commission (UBIFRANCE), the French Alliance, and the Texan French Alliance for the Arts. Three of Houston's 16 foreign-owned banks are from France: Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Natixis, and Société Générale. Nice, France, was designated as one of Houston's 19 international sister cities in 1973, More than 3,100 people living in metro Houston were born in France. The delegation also has scheduled a tour of Interstellar Labs, a visit to Station F, the world's largest startup campus, a meeting with Total Energies, and will attend the opening of Rice University's first international campus, the Rice University Paris Center, with Rice President David Leebron and Provost Reginald DesRoches, who will become Rice's president in July. The  delegation includes City Council Member Karla Cisneros, Pierre Bang, President and CEO, Total Energies, Jean-Loup Chrétien, retired astronaut and Tietronix Vice President of Research and Development, Alex Condon, CEO, Galen Data and Scott Gale of Halliburton, among others. Learn more about Houston's international business ties. 
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