International trade in the Dallas-Fort Worth area nearly doubled over the last five years, mostly as the result of billions of dollars of Chinese imports.
The Greater Dallas Chamber released figures this week that show the area’s total international trade reached $58.3 billion in 2006, up from $29.8 billion in 2001.
Last year alone, the total value of imports and exports soared 17.5 percent, although imports made up two-thirds of that trade.
Once again, China was the region’s top trading partner, accounting for almost 30 percent of the total shipments.
The figures don’t include goods shipped by truck or rail to the region because those shipments are counted when they cross U.S. borders or enter the country’s ports. As a result, the actual trade figures for Dallas-Fort Worth are much higher.
Lyssa Jenkens, the chamber’s chief economist, says the area is getting more goods by air. International cargo levels reached a record last year at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Total air cargo at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth also jumped to a new high.
Dallas-Fort Worth mirrors the national trade picture. Last year, China surpassed Mexico as the country’s No. 2 trade partner for the first time.
When asked about the outlook for this year, Ms. Jenkens said, “I can’t imagine that anything would stop it unless we run into crowding at our airports.”
Close to half of the region’s trade in 2006 involved electric machinery.
Other large categories include boilers, reactors and other machines; aircraft and spacecraft; and optic, photo, medical and surgical instruments.
Last year’s trade numbers included an unusually large new item: about $3.1 billion worth of electrical equipment for the telecom industry from Malaysia.
Imports to the area last year climbed 18.2 percent to $37.6 billion, led by China, Malaysia and South Korea.
Exports rose to $20.6 billion, up 15.7 percent. Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore led the list of top export markets for the region. China ranked fifth.
“D/FW is a great location for trade,” said Mine Yücel, a senior economist and vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.