We're America's most trade-dependent and trade-vulnerable state — and the key is airplanes.
The state exported $77 billion in goods last year, 3.2 percent less than in 2016.
Washington’s showing was at odds with a national gain of 6.6 percent, according to data from WISERTrade. Among the two state export powerhouses above Washington, California gained 5.2 percent and Texas shot up 14.3 percent compared with the previous year. These improvements were helped by a relatively weaker dollar.
The slower export showing for 2017 here is centered in aerospace — planes and parts — which fell 9.3 percent last year. At $42.3 billion, this sector makes up a far larger share of our exports than is the case with diversified California and even Texas. The Washington aerospace sector’s exports totaled more than $54 billion in 2015.
Washington did show a gain with its largest trading partner, China. Merchandise exports increased 13.4 percent, boosted by a nearly 19 percent gain in airplanes and parts, as well as big gains in vehicles, cereals and electronic machinery.
Also, international container volumes grew 4 percent last year at the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the partnership between the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma. Imports were flat but exports increased 7 percent. The continued slowdown in Alaska continues to hurt domestic trade between the Puget Sound and the Last Frontier.
Our state continues to punch above its weight in exports (states with similar population: Arizona, $21 billion and Massachusetts, $28 billion). But much of that boost comes from Boeing and the aerospace cluster here. Until its overseas sales turn back up, expect continued relative declines in exports.
Today’s Econ Haiku:
Not as inspiring
One small step for a rich man
And his red sports car