September 8 2017

Global Trade Opportunities in the Capital Region

Despite a strong U.S. dollar (USD) and weaker global demand, Capital Region exports held steady in 2016, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of new Brookings Institution estimates.

Exports throughout the eight counties last year totaled $5.978 billion, up 7.3 percent from five years earlier. Impacting that growth was the U.S. dollar’s strength against the currencies of key New York trade partners. For example, Canada is New York’s largest trade partner, and the U.S. dollar’s exchange rate with the Canadian dollar over the year rose by 3.5 percent to $1.3243 in 2016, according to Federal Reserve data. Brookings estimated the region’s exporting sectors directly supported 14,935 jobs regionwide. There were 209, or 1.4 percent, more direct export-supported jobs than the previous year.

Exports by Industry

In 2016, manufacturing accounted for $3.1 billion – or more than half – of Capital Region exports. That was down 2.3 percent from the previous year. The chemical and machinery manufacturing subsectors accounted for nearly two thirds (60.2 percent) of exports within this sector. While the former experienced a 2.2 percent gain in exports, the latter declined by 14.9 percent. Meanwhile, the computer and electronic sector – the third largest manufacturing subsector – saw exports jump by 25.1 percent to $285 million.

The region’s second largest exporting super sector was information and technology. Its exports rose over the year by 3.4 percent to $1.2 billion in 2016, driven by a 5 percent gain in royalties and a 2.3 percent increase in the tech sector.

Finance and insurance was the region’s fourth largest exporter, totaling $641 million. While insurance services exports increased over the year by 9 percent, financial services exports decreased by 15.9 percent. And despite being one of the region’s smallest exporting super sectors, agriculture, forestry and fishing emerged as a top performer in the region. Its exports grew over the year by 42.7 percent to $136 million in 2016. A majority of those exports – $129 million – were in the agriculture sector.

Exports by County

Out of the region’s eight counties, six of them experienced year-over export gains in 2016. Columbia and Schenectady counties were the only ones with export declines of 11 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively. Rensselaer and Washington counties were the region’s fastest growing exporters, with year-over gains of 8.6 and 4.9 percent.

Albany and Saratoga counties account for more than half (57.3 percent) of the Capital Region’s direct export-supported jobs. Greene County has the fewest such jobs in the region. Over the year, Washington County saw the biggest jump in direct export-supported jobs (10.2 percent) and Rensselaer County saw the greatest change in the number of such jobs (145).

Capital 20.20

The Capital Region’s 2016 export performance highlights the need to advance several of the strategies included in the region’s five-year economic development plan, Capital 20.20. Among these is the Gateway strategy, which calls for the enhancement and expansion of the region’s port infrastructure. Work toward that goal is underway this summer with the Port of Albany starting construction on a 58,000 climate-controlled warehouse for heavy cargo made by General Electric, Siemens and other manufacturers.

CEG’s Role in Boosting Exports

To boost Capital Region exports, CEG is engaged in the following activities:

  • Exportech: A CEG Business Growth Solutions (BGS) program that provides manufacturers with a step-by-step system for expanding into new markets, adding customers and driving profitable growth. BGS will host Exportech informational sessions on Oct. 4 and Nov. 15.
  • Tech Valley Global Business Network (TVGBN): A collaboration between CEG, the Capital Region Chamber and the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County that provides companies with educational, coaching and networking programs for entering into or expanding in international markets. On May 25, CEG worked with Global NY and TVGBN on an exporting to Mexico event, followed by a similar event for Saudi Arabia on Sept. 6.
  • Global NY: This is the state’s one-stop shopping center for New York businesses looking to enter foreign markets, providing them with loan and grant opportunities, export marketing assistance services and State Trade Expansion Program (SET) funding.


All CEG members have access to BGS services, which include programming for lean enterprises systems, technology acceleration, quality improvement, cost reduction, new market expansion, management strategy and sales growth. To schedule a consultation with CEG BGS Director Michael Lobsinger email or call 518-465-8975 X238.

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