Texas is Nro. 1 State for Foreign-Trade Zone Economic Impact

At last count, there were some 5,400 special economic zones around the world. Objective data tracking corporate investments in all of them are hard to find. But in the United States and territories, at least, we have numbers to work with.

There are 261 approved Foreign-Trade Zones in the United States. Repeating an exercise we first conducted last year, Site Selection and Conway Analytics have extracted relevant jobs, manufacturing and merchandise received/exported data from the latest U.S. FTZ Board report to Congress (published in August 2021), indexed the numbers and ranked the Top 20 U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones by Economic Impact and Top 10 States by Total FTZ Economic Impact.

With four of the top 20 FTZs, it’s no surprise that Texas leads the list of Top 10 States, followed by California, Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee. Indiana and Florida jump into the Top 10 this year, while Kentucky and Georgia drop out and Illinois drops from No. 5 to No. 10. Notably, both Indiana and South Carolina claim two FTZs in the Top 20, and Puerto Rico not only claims the No. 7 FTZ in Mayagüez, but the No. 7 spot among all U.S. states and territories for overall zone impact.

TEUs in Texas

Container ports are experiencing unprecedented congestion, especially on the West Coast, which is driving strong activity at other ports affiliated with major FTZs such as No. 4-ranked FTZ 84 in Harris County, Texas. Port Houston saw double-digit TEU growth for the seventh consecutive month in September at 281,500 TEUs, up 11% compared to the same month last year. Year-to-date, TEUs were up 16% compared to 2020.

“With holiday season shopping on the horizon, containerized cargo is expected to remain strong through what is shaping up to be an extended peak season through Barbours Cut and Bayport Container Terminals,” a release from Port Houston stated. Steel imports are also up, increasing 161% in September 2021 compared to September 2020 and by 28% year-to-date. The growth reflects increased activity in the energy industry. “Texas onshore and offshore rig count is up 243 rigs from October 1, 2020, almost double compared to last year, fueling an increase in demand for Oil Country Tubular Goods (steel pipe) for drilling operations,” said the port.

A major dredging contract was just awarded in October for the $1.1 billion expansion of the Houston Ship Channel, expected to be complete in 2026.

“Providing efficient and predictable cargo movement through our port during an unprecedented surge in global imports continues to be a top priority for us,” said Roger Guenther, executive director at Port Houston, in September. “We expect elevated levels in the supply chain to continue well into 2022 and will continue to explore opportunities including accelerating an already aggressive capital investment strategy for our terminals to stay in front of the demand.”

Full article: Site Selection Magazine