WICHITA – The Wichita economy bucked a national downward trend in international trade in 2015, showing a 6.8 percent increase in exports. The information comes from a recently-released “Export Monitor” report from the Brookings Institution, a national think tank and leading source on trade issues.
Wichita’s performance was third-best among the top 100 metropolitan areas, ranking only behind New Orleans (9 percent) and Bakersfield CA (7.2 percent).
The report noted that U.S. exports declined by 1 percent in 2015 due to unfavorable monetary exchange rates and weak international demand. However, 43 of the top 100 metro areas showed an increase in exports in the face of those international challenges.
Wichita was one of only a handful of metro areas in the Midwest and Northeast that recorded an export increase. The vast majority of increases were logged in metropolitan areas in the southern tier of states.
The report is encouraging for the Wichita area, and validates the effort of the Wichita Regional Export Plan. The five-year strategy was undertaken in 2015 and administered by Kansas Global Trade Services, a Wichita-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and facilitating international trade. The export plan is a collaboration among Kansas Global, the Brookings Institution and numerous public/ private partners in the 10-county region.
On a broader scale, Brookings data showed a 5.85 percent increase in exports for the 10-county region. The Wichita increase of 6.8 percent reflects the five-county Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
“The increased exports in 2015 are the result of the hard work by Wichita area companies who recognize the opportunities in the international marketplace,” according to Karyn Page, CEO and president of Kansas Global Trade Services. “The state and regional economies are growing because of trade. Kansas businesses compete in the global marketplace.”
The leading categories of exports in the Wichita region include transportation equipment ($3.5 billion), machinery manufacturing ($624 million), agriculture ($490 million), petroleum and coal products ($325 million) and chemical manufacturing ($249 million).
The Brookings report is consistent with localized data collected by Kansas Global as part of the Regional Export Plan. Earlier this year, Kansas Global Trade Services documented a minimum of $6.8 million of new exports since the inception of the regional plan in 2015.