What the numbers show

Oregon, and the Portland-metro area in particular, has traditionally been tradeoriented. Located on the Pacific Rim, Portland-metro has one of the best multimodal transportation hubs on the West Coast for connecting domestic and international markets. Thousands of jobs in the state and the region directly depend on international trade and will continue to do so in the future. International trade is one of the few sectors of the state and regional economy that is growing jobs and economic activity. Itís also raising average wages even as the recession continues to impact the overall economy.

Jobs and Wages

"Global demand is the most fundamental driver of our business."

Tamara Lundgren
President & CEO
Schnitzer Steel Industries

Most studies of the impact of international trade look only at imports or exports and generally only at manufactured goods. While trade of manufactured goods is - and will remain - a critical component of international trade, trade jobs and income are increasingly also associated with the export of services and the import of foreign capital investment. Our analysis estimates that 470,000 Oregon jobs are associated with all exporting and importing activities in both the manufacturing and nonmanufacturing sectors. Portland-metro accounts for 268,000 of those jobs.

Recent studies have found that workers in export industries and firms earned substantially more than those in nonexporting industries and firms. One report found that the average wage of workers at exporting firms was 9-18 percent higher than non-exporting firms.

Exports - Merchandise

Oregon and the region are strong centers for the export of goods, including manufactured goods, food, agricultural products and transportation equipment. In 2008, Oregonís merchandise exports exceeded $19 billion before the global recession hit. Prior to the recession, exports of Oregon goods were rising at an average annual rate of more than 16 percent. The manufacturing sector is particularly dependent on international trade, with one in four dollars of sales and a quarter of the sectorís jobs tied to foreign customers.

Exports - Services

Exports of services to international markets make up a significant share of Oregon business sales. Architectural, engineering, computer systems, software, scientific research and telecommunications are increasingly finding markets internationally. In 2002, architectural, engineering and related services registered the largest value of Oregonís service exports to the world, and those exports accounted for over 10 percent of the industriesí total revenue that year.


Contrary to popular belief, most U.S. imports are not finished goods, but raw materials, components and machinery used by U.S. farmers, manufacturers and others to produce goods and services in the United States. Sixty percent of the imports into Oregon in 2008 fall into this category. Imports enable regional manufacturers or service providers and their employees to compete for sales to increasingly costconscious consumers in global as well as national and regional markets.

Foreign investment

Foreign investment in Oregon also contributes to the regionís economy and job base. Majority-owned affiliates of foreign firms employed 44,300 Oregon workers, or about three percent of Oregon workers, in 2007. Twenty-six percent of those jobs were at manufacturing firms owned by subsidiaries of foreign owned firms.

Small Business

Small- and medium-sized firms account for the bulk of Oregonís exporters. In 2008, 88 percent of Oregonís 4,640 exporters were small-or medium-sized firms. That statistic only counts firms tht are direct exporters, it does not include the many related smalland medium-size firms which indirectly exported by selling parts or components that were subsequently incorporated into an export shipment.

Exporting Oregon Values

"The growth of Oregon Steel into what itís become simply would not have been possible without the foreign acquisition and investment by Russiaís Evraz Group."

Mike Rehwinkel
President & CEO, Evraz Inc. NA.

Oregonís international firms are carrying the ethic and technology of sustainability across the globe. They export concepts such as sustainability and environmental stewardship with requirements in their purchasing or sales contracts or with tools that their suppliers use to identify sustainable practices. Rejuvenation, a manufacturer of period lighting, is working with its suppliers in China, India and Taiwan to green their supply chain by monitoring waste water and recycling. Glumac, an engineering consulting firm, employs more than 80 LEED accredited professionals to promote environmental practices in countries like India and China. The Oregon electronics industry helped create a program that enables buyers of computers and monitors to measure their environmental impact. Nike recently announced the creation of its Environmental Apparel Design Tool which allows companies to assess the footprint of their products during the design phase.

Athletic & Outdoor Industry

"Open trade and markets are critical to the success of Columbia Sportswear. Our highly skilled workforce in the Portland area includes world-class designers, marketers and many other professions."

Peter Bragdon
Senior Vice President of
Legal & Corporate Affairs
Columbia Sportswear

While manufacturing and distribution of the goods created by Oregon athletic and outdoor companies occurs largely outside the state and country, the research, design, marketing and global management occurs in Oregon. These jobs tend to pay higher wages because they represent the value of the intellectual property associated with a brand. According to the Oregon Employment Department, the average wage in the stateís athletic and outdoor industry in 2009 was $82,700 per year, 79 percent higher than the average wage for all workers. A recent Portland Development Commission report found that 700 firms in this sector employ more than 14,000, with a combined payroll of nearly $1.2 billion. The report estimates that another 3,200 self-employed individuals provide services to the athletic and outdoor sector, generating another $100 million in annual revenue.


Oregon receives more patents for footwear than any other state. Portland-metro contains the nationís largest concentration of athletic and outdoor companies. Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Adidas, Danner, Keen, Pendleton and Leatherman are just a few of the companies in this sector that call the Portland-metro region home.


Portland-metro in particular benefits from international trade and the presence of the ports of Portland and Vancouver. The companies and workers at the two ports are operating around the clock and knit together into a network of ocean shippers, transcontinental railways, truck lines, river barging, and international airports. Although the recession did not spare international trade, for the first eight months of 2010, exports through the ports were up 17 percent, driven by increases in raw materials destined for strongly growing Asian markets. In addition, the ports have recently seen a 23.4 percent increase in transportation equipment imports. Overall, the ports have a significant impact on the regional economy. Combined the two ports directly and indirectly supported more than 34,000 jobs, in 2006.

"As the world has become smaller, ZGF Architects has seen a definite increase in the number of international opportunties, and our company is focusing more on those projects."

Nancy Fishman
Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects

Federal Trade Agreements

The ports have also seen a noticeable increase in traffic, as U.S. free trade agreements are implemented.

Prior to U.S. extension of Permanent Normal Trade Relations for China and their subsequent accession to the World Trade Organization, Oregon exports to China amounted to $150 million per year. Since enactment of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China in 2000, Oregon exports have exploded. In 2009, Oregon exported $2.9 billion worth of goods to China; this statistic doesnít measure exports of services such as engineering and architecture, so this understates the real importance of China as a trading partner. Exports from Oregon to China through June 2010 have nearly doubled compared to 2009, putting us on pace to export $4.5 billion in goods to China this year, making China Oregon's largest export market.*

Enactment of bilateral Free Trade Agreements have also benefited Oregon exports. The proportion of non-China merchandise trade with the 17 countries the U.S. now has Free Trade Agreements with increased 24 percent between 1996 and 2009. For example, since passage of the Chile Free Trade Agreement, Oregon's exports of goods to Chile have increased 50 percent. The U.S. recently entered into a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore. As a result, Singapore is on pace to purchase $340 million worth of Oregon goods this year, making it Oregon's 11th largest export market.

* Source: International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce