China, Boeing, Power Spike in Washington State Exports

Steve Wilhelm, February 19, 2014, Puget Sound Business Journal

Washington state exports jumped 8 percent to a record $81.9 billion in 2013, a surge that was all about Boeing and China.

The export numbers were dominated by sales of Boeing aircraft, which at $43.7 billion accounted for more than half of the total. This confirmed how important Boeing exports are to Washington’s economy, and thus how significant it is that Boeing has chosen to build the 777X wing and assemble the 777X aircraft in Everett.

Boeing plans to invest “hundreds of millions” of dollars in the facility, including construction of a 1 million-square-foot factory, said Boeing Commercial Aircraft CEO Ray Conner and other Boeing officials at a press briefing Tuesday. This almost guarantees that Boeing will continue building aircraft here for years to come.

“We cannot overstate what this means for aerospace and the state of Washington,” said Gov. Jay Inslee at the briefing on the wing decision Tuesday. “This is a statewide win.”

China was one of the largest single markets for Boeing exports of aircraft in 2013, accounting for $8 billion.

Largely due to those Boeing purchases, China pulled even further ahead as a destination for Washington exports, accounting for $16.8 billion of the total exports. But if these aircraft exports are subtracted from Washington’s total exports to China, the remaining non-aircraft exports actually fell 1 percent, to $38.2 billion.

The $8.9 billion in purchases of goods by runner-up Canada were about half of China’s imports.

The numbers were made available by the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research in Holyoke, Mass.

The continued ascendancy of China as the leading destination for Washington goods is a relatively recent phenomenon. As recently as 2000, for instance, Japan was well ahead of China, importing $4.6 billion from Washington compared with just $1.9 billion sent to China. But China passed into the lead in 2007 and has been increasing the gap ever since.

Even factoring out China, Washington exports climbed 5.5 percent last year, to $65 billion.

The other biggest markets, in order of strength, were Canada, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.

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