Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog

San Diego improves its export intensity

August 28, 2015


Lately trade has been on the minds of everyone, with Trade Promotion Authority’s (TPA) passage in June, discussions around the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) hopefully wrapping up this month, and the ongoing negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Exports and trade have become the driving force behind discussions around U.S. job growth and the nation’s continued recovery from the Great Recession.

“As U.S. firms produce and sell their world-class products to customers around the globe, each transaction strengthens our local and national economies, and creates jobs here at home.”U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker

We know that supporting companies’ ability to export their goods and services is important for the economic prosperity of San Diego. Exports help sustain jobs, allow companies to pay higher wages, and spur more efficient development of technology and research and development. In 2014 alone, exports supported 72,716 direct and 131,605 indirect jobs.

Earlier this year, the Brooking Institution released new data for its Metropolitan Export Monitor. This data has been the basis for the development of the Go Global San Diego: Trade and Investment Plan, released in March 2015. Although the Export Monitor employs International Trade Administration data, the Export Monitor differs by examining production location vs. origin-of-movement. The full complete methodology can be found by going to the Brookings Institution’s website. Over the next month, we will be examining this new data.                          

In 2014, San Diego was ranked as the 16th largest metropolitan region in the U.S. in terms of its GDP ($206.1 billion) and the value of its real exports ($20.6 billion). However, when comparing export intensity (exports as a share of GDP) among the top 100 metropolitan regions, San Diego ranks 50th (10.03 percent). San Diego has been consistently improving this number over the last four years, ranking 60th (9.62 percent) in 2011. This ranking puts San Diego above peer metros such as Minneapolis (56th), New York (65th), Baltimore (90th), and Washington D.C. (95th).

Even when comparing San Diego’s export intensity to the top 25 metros by GDP, San Diego still falls below the median – ranking 14th. However, San Diego experienced the 2nd largest growth in its exports value, growing by more than 6.6 percent, with San Jose growing at 7.3 percent. Lastly, our region had the largest percent increase in its export intensity – growing by 3.9 percent. The only metro which came close to this level of growth was Seattle, increasing by 2.9 percent.

"San Diego’s international trade opportunities have been moving in a very positive direction since we first examined this element of our economy in 2012. But while we have seen export activity continue to grow each year, there is still a lot more we can be doing to better connect our economy to foreign markets,” said Mark Cafferty, president & CEO at San Diego Regional EDC. “With support from dozens of partners and business groups throughout our mega-region, our Go Global San Diego Initiative aims to increase exports, attract more investment and maximize our global competitiveness.”

The Go Global San Diego Initiative was launched in partnership with more than 20 business, civic, and community leaders. The initiative implements five strategies in order to: (1) drive job growth through expanding FDI and international exports; (2) deepen economic ties between the San Diego region and strategic markets; and (3) enhance our regional identity to increase the region’s global fluency and competitiveness. 


In the comings weeks, we will be posting more information regarding San Diego's exports. Subscribe here to receive the latest information.