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Monthly Update: Foreign Trade

December '23, latest data
Published on 2/21/24


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The four seaports in the metro area—Freeport, Galveston, Houston, and Texas City—handled 255.9 million metric tons of cargo in ’23, a 5.3 percent increase from the 242.9 million handled over the comparable period in ’22. Export tonnage was up 9.6 percent; import tonnage was down 5.6 percent.

The region saw increased exports of crude and refined products, plastics, and organic chemicals, but exports of cereals and inorganic chemicals fell. 

Imports of crude and articles of steel slipped compared to last year while the region saw a bump in organic chemicals.


Trade through the Houston-area seaports was valued at $261.6 billion in ‘23, a 6.9 percent drop from $280.9 billion over the comparable period in ’22. Exports are down $12.6 billion (7.9 percent). Imports are down $6.6 billion (5.5 percent). 


Although industrial machinery and vehicle exports are still up from ’22, the overall drop reflects the reduced value of crude, refined products, and organic chemicals shipments. Crude and refined product imports also decreased in volume, cancelling out increases in industrial and electrical machinery.

Prepared by Greater Houston Partnership Research

Patrick Jankowski, CERP
Chief Economist
Senior Vice President, Research

Leta Wauson
Director, Research


Foreign Trade International Business Key Economic Indicators
$255.9 billion

Houston seaports handled $255.9 billion in shipments in '23

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