By Bill Moore
How important is international trade to Vermont’s economy? According to a report from the Business Roundtable, “International trade, including exports and imports, supports 92,502 Vermont jobs — more than 1 in 5. These trade-related jobs grew 6.6 times faster than total employment from 2004 to 2013 and are at large and small companies, on farms, in factories, and at the headquarters of Vermont’s globally engaged firms.”
The website Global Edge shows that Vermont exports had a value of $2,989,622,247 in 2016. The Business Roundtable says that, “Of Vermont’s 1,251 exporters, 84 percent are small- and medium-sized companies with less than 500 workers. Foreign-owned companies invest and build facilities and employ 11,900 workers in Vermont.”
Does that get your attention? It ought to, those are no small numbers. They only begin to scratch the surface, however.
What are Vermont’s biggest exports? Global Edge lists Vermont’s top 10 exports as electrical machinery ($1,800,143,814); industrial machinery ($198,231,324); precision instruments ($159,201,778); cocoa ($70,428,422); toys and sport equipment ($69,766,769); paper ($67,984,468); wood ($66,863,348); aircraft ($58,275,962); cereal, flour and starch ($43,796,079) and head gear ($42,897,074).
Add $575 million in services that are exported (travel, industrial processes royalties and business management and consulting services) and it is easy to understand why Vermont businesses are bullish on exports.
Who are Vermont’s exporters conducting commerce with? Global Edge lists Vermont’s top ten markets as Canada ($1,186,420,145), Hong Kong ($352,377,637), Malaysia ($192,573,760), China ($176,246,439); South Korea ($153,277,904); Mexico ($127,894,391); Netherlands ($114,455,825), Taiwan ($95,769,517), United Kingdom ($72,745,486) and Germany ($71,480,911).
As strong as our export sector is, Vermont has a trade imbalance of approximately $740 million. We are big importers of electrical machinery ($817,284,129) oil and mineral fuels ($811,068,667); cocoa ($308,853,030); industrial machinery ($299,114,768); apparel, non- knit ($234,541,456); food and agriculture ($177,978,710); wood ($103,876,060); plastics ($66,606,660); motor vehicles and parts ($66,265,768); and animal feeds ($60,214,065).
Who is exporting to Vermont? Our top 10 import countries are Canada ($2,584,573,086), China ($248,197,223), France ($118,648,362), Japan ($85,400,089), Vietnam ($62,046,141), India ($59,266,682), Germany ($54,560,894), Indonesia ($45,349,379), United Kingdom ($42,845,598) and Mexico ($42,746,231).
Standing out in all of this data is Canada. Canada is Vermont’s largest foreign trade partner. And there are opportunities for more trade between us.
On Friday, April 13, the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce will be hosting Canadian Consul General David Alward (Boston Consulate) at our monthly Chamber “$marts and ¢ents” breakfast program. Mr. Alward will be addressing the importance of, and opportunities for, trade with Canada. The meeting will be from 7:30 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and will be held in our conference rooms at 33 Stewart Road in Berlin.
Bill Moore is president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.