NEWS

Toyota, auto parts makers boost San Antonio’s export totals

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Led by transportation products, including Toyota pickup trucks, the San Antonio metropolitan area exported more than $9.18 billion in products and services last year, according to a new Brookings Institution report.

The value of exports ranks 40th among 381 U.S. metropolitan areas and supports 57,160 San Antonio-area jobs, according to the report from the Washington-based institution’s Global Cities Initiative.

From 2003 to 2014, the value of exports also has grown with an annual average of 8.2 percent, a growth rate that puts San Antonio 38th among U.S. cities.

“I’m not surprised that the numbers are larger now. There’s a lot of activity in the auto industry,” said Jose Martinez, Free Trade Alliance San Antonio CEO and president.

Motor vehicles were San Antonio’s top export in 2014. The city’s Toyota assembly plant exports Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks to 15 international markets.

San Antonio-made pickup trucks are sold in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, Chile, the NATO operations area of Germany, Bahrain, New Caledonia, Saipan, Japan, Guam, American Samoa, Canada, according to a Toyota spokeswoman.

Toyota began exporting San Antonio-made pickup trucks in 2011, said Amanda Rice, a Toyota business communications specialist in California. So far this year, Toyota has exported 7,585 trucks from San Antonio. Last year, 20,914 pickups were exported, Rice said.

Toyota in general exports about 10 percent of its production from all its U.S. plants yearly. The San Antonio assembly plant “is in line with that,” Rice said.

Motor vehicles accounted for nearly $1.22 billion in area exports last year, but neither Brookings nor Toyota could confirm whether all of that amount is attributable to Toyota.

Exports accounted for 8.9 percent of the San Antonio area’s economy last year, a proportion that gives San Antonio a ranking of only No. 254 among 381 U.S. metropolitan areas. However, the number of jobs supported by exports ranks it 41st, similar to the ranking for the value of the area’s exports.

San Antonio’s export volumes have been growing, according to the Brookings Institution, by an average of 4.7 percent a year since 2008. That growth rate ranks 56th among U.S. cities.

The second-largest category is aircraft products and parts, accounting for about $693.2 million last year.

The third-largest export category is motor vehicle parts. San Antonio companies listed by Brookings as exporting auto parts include TK Holdings Inc., Toyoda-Gosei Co. Ltd., TK Taito Merger LLC, Reyes Automotive Group and Vutex Inc.

Exports of petroleum and coal products ($369 million in 2014) were followed by pharmaceuticals ($332.1 million), financial management ($270.7 million), oil-and-gas extraction ($286.2 million), management-and-consulting services ($255.8 million), research-and-development services ($230.8 million) and agriculture ($225.3 million) to round out the top 10 categories.

“I think the numbers are good, but we have a lot more work to do,” said Martinez said of the Free Trade Alliance.

The alliance and the city Economic Development Department are executing an export expansion plan written with the help of Brookings and Chase, Martinez pointed out.

“We can help companies target (export) markets, and we can help them get there,” Martinez said. “We want people to understand that exports is a great job generator, with high-paying jobs … But a lot of companies are not doing it because they are intimated by selling to foreign countries.”

 

expressnews.com

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