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  February 6th, 2015 | Written by


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No. 1 Houston, Texas

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX

$104.5 billion (2011 export total) + $23.9 billion (increase from 2010) + 29.65 percent (increase from 2010)

Anyone doubting the local effects of global trade need only look at Houston. Owing to its leadership role as a producer of petroleum and coal products—which makes up a third of its exports—the city produced a robust 29.6 percent growth in 2011, more than $23 billion. And don’t assume all that money found its way into the snakeskin billfolds of local billionaires. Overseas trade helped make Houston the top American city in terms of job creation. “Foreign trade contributes to job creation, generates significant economic impact to our city and has helped Houston’s reputation as a world energy capital,” says Mayor Annise Parker. Over the last five years, more than 100 foreign-owned companies have relocated, expanded or started new businesses in the area. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, Houston is not only the first major city to regain all the jobs it lost due to the economic downturn but has created more than two jobs for every one lost. —Steve Lowery

No. 2 New York, New York

New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ

$105.1 billion | + $20 billion | + 23.5 percent

The benefits of international trade are nothing new to New York, where one out of every 10 private-sector jobs is with a foreign company. Still, Gotham has been going gaga over its leading export growth market for the past decade, a little berg known as China. Hong Kong and China account for 15 percent of all of New York’s exports. Not only have the Chinese been enthusiastic buyers of New York manufactured goods and metals, but more than half of China’s 32 largest companies that do business in the U.S. have headquarters in and around New York and, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, that’s a good thing. “Chinese growth is an opportunity for the U.S. and the world, because the global economy is not a zero-sum game. We all share in each other’s success,” Bloomberg says. “A growing China creates jobs for our export producers, keeps consumer prices low, expands our choice of goods and services, and increases our access to capital and talent.” —SL

No. 3 Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA

$72.7 billion | + $10.5 billion | + 16.9 percent

L.A. does about half of its international trade with somewhere old—Mexico represents 24.3 percent of all the city’s exports—and somewhere relatively new—the burgeoning Asian markets of China, Hong Kong and Japan take up another 23.9 percent of the City of Angels’ goods. The Chinese market is seen as so critical to L.A.’s future that one of now former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s last official acts was to take his third trip to the region to promote “trade, tourism and foreign direct investment.” Stephen Cheung, the L.A. Port’s director of International Development, explained why the trip could not wait for new Mayor Eric Garcetti to be sworn in. “Other cities are going [to China] on a regular basis to attract business,” Cheung said. “If they are able to secure a deal before us, there’s a possibility they may move their business elsewhere and not to Los Angeles. This is something we can’t risk.” —SL

No. 4 Miami, Florida

Miami-Fort Lauderdale Pompano Beach, FL

$43.1 billion | + $7.2 billion | + 20.6 percent

If you plan on doing business in Central or South America, chances are you’re going to have to go through Miami. The city known as the “Capital of Latin America” is a critical cog in doing business southward; city officials and business leaders have said they believe the city will become the hemisphere’s tech hub. More than 1,400 multinational corporations use Miami as their headquarters of Latin American operations. And we’re talking the big boys: Exxon, AIG, Microsoft, Visa International and Wal-Mart, just to name a very few. Mayor Tomas Regalado says the reason for the city’s standing in Latin America is that it provides the climate and culture of any great Latin city but “with the security that you have in the United States, for your investment and for your family.” —SL

No. 5 New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA

$24.4 billion | + $4.0 billion | + 19.8 percent

The Big Easy’s origins in the early 18th 74 Global Trade SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2013 century are a product of the area’s optimum location as a trading port. Indeed, the Port of New Orleans is the fifth largest in the United States based on volume of cargo handled and the Port of South Louisiana, also based in New Orleans, is the world’s busiest in terms of bulk tonnage. Exports from New Orleans—bound for such major trade destinations as China ($3.6 billion), the Netherlands ($2.1 billion) and Singapore ($1.9 billion)—account for 62.5 percent of Louisiana’s merchandise exports. (SL)