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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

economy

Port of Entry: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Houston-IAH) Impact to the Texas Economy, 2018

Ports of entry within the state of Texas accounted for nearly $740 billion in international trade in 2018. Texas has 29 official ports of entry that serve as critical gateways to global trade. Each port, whether an airport, land port or seaport, serves many domestic and international economic activities across multiple industries. Each Texas port plays a distinctive role in the state’s transportation network and contributes to the state and local economies.

Of Texas’ total international trade, $70.3 billion, or 9.5 percent, traveled through the state’s airports, with the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Houston-IAH) accounting for 20.1 percent of the airport trade, or about $14.1 billion.1

Economic Contribution

Based on the Comptroller’s estimate, trade through Houston-IAH in 2018 affected about 42,000 net jobs in Texas. Approximately $6.3 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) is related to trade through Houston-IAH (Exhibit 1).2

Exhibit 1:Trade through the Houston-IAH Airport
Estimated Total Contribution to the Texas Economy, 20183
DescriptionValue
Total direct trade value $14.1 billion
Related gross domestic product4 $6.3 billion
Total employment affected5 42,000

Sources: Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) model for Texas, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Houston-IAH Trade

Houston-IAH’s top two trading partners account for 37 percent of all trade traversing the port (Exhibit 2). Its top trading partner, Germany, represents 11 percent of the port’s total trade, while the second-, third- and fourth-largest (the Netherlands, China and the United Kingdom) account for 8.8, 8.7 and 8.4 percent, respectively.

Exhibit 2:Houston-IAH Port of Entry Trade Value (2014 to 2018)
YearOverall Trade (billions) Trade with with Germany, the Netherlands, China and the United Kingdom (billions)
Total TradeExportsImports Trade % of Total ExportsImports
2018 $14.1 $8.5 $5.6 $5.2 36.9% $2.6 $2.6
2017 $14.0 $8.5 $5.5 $5.7 40.6% $2.8 $2.9
2016 $14.4 $8.8 $5.6 $5.7 39.3% $2.9 $2.8
2015 $15.3 $9.3 $5.9 $5.8 38.2% $2.8 $3.0
2014 $18.8 $10.1 $8.7 $6.1 32.5% $2.8 $3.3

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau: Economic Indicators Division, USA Trade Online


Exhibit 3: Trading Partners and Trade Products6 through the Houston-IAH Port of Entry (based on $ value), 2018
DescriptionPartners/Products
Top origins of imported goods: Germany, China, the United Kingdom
Top destinations for exported goods: the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia
Top products traded: machinery, electronics

Source: U.S. Census Bureau: Economic Indicators Division, USA Trade Online

Shipping activity through accounted for $14.1 billion in trade in 2018, 96 percent more than in 2003 ($7.2 billion) (Exhibit 4). ranks 19th nationally for total cargo tonnage and ninth for total flights (all planes) (Exhibit 5).

Houston-IAH Port of Entry, All Trade (All Commodities), 2003 to 2018

Exhibit 4: Port of Houston-IAH, All Trade (All Commodities), 2003 to 2018
Year Total Trade through Houston-IAH (in billions) Percentage of Total Trade through airports
2003 7.2 billion dollars 22%
2004 7.8 billion dollars 19%
2005 9.5 billion dollars 20%
2006 11.4 billion dollars 20%
2007 12.8 billion dollars 22%
2008 13.8 billion dollars 23%
2009 12.9 billion dollars 25%
2010 16.4 billion dollars 27%
2011 20.4 billion dollars 30%
2012 18.5 billion dollars 27%
2013 17.2 billion dollars 25%
2014 18.8 billion dollars 25%
2015 15.3 billion dollars 21%
2016 14.4 billion dollars 21%
2017 14.0 billion dollars 20%
2018 14.1 billion dollars 20%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau: Economic Indicators Division, USA Trade Online


Exhibit 5:Houston-IAH Operations,7 2016 to 2018
Year Total Cargo in Metric TonsAircraft Movements
(landing and takeoff)
Passengers*
Domestic
(Metric Tons)
Percent International
2018 528,555 47.5% 466,738 43,807,539
2017 451,130 50.2% 450,323 40,732,190
2016 431,982 48.9% 470,780 41,692,372

*Arriving and departing passengers, as well as direct transit passengers, are each counted once.

Source: Houston Airport System


  1. U.S. Census Bureau: USA Trade Online – U.S. Import and Export Merchandise trade statistics.
  2. Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) model for Texas was used with total trade value attributed to this port as a percentage of Texas’ total trade value as an input. These data were used to generate a weighted estimate of net jobs and GDP associated with trade at this port.
  3. The estimated contributions offer a strong indicator of the economic importance of this port of entry to Texas; estimates as such are not precise quantifications of direct or indirect contributions to the Texas economy.
  4. “Gross domestic product” refers to the total value of all final goods and services produced in Texas.
  5. “Total employment” refers to both direct and indirect employment.
  6. U.S. Census Bureau: Economic Indicators Division, USA Trade Online.
  7. Houston Airports System – Statistics Dashboard

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