According to the International Trade Administration, exports from Michigan to foreign markets totaled a staggering $44.8 billion in 2010. As of the Administration’s most recent report, a total of 11,210 Michigan-based companies exported goods and materials to foreign markets. Of those, more than 90% were small to medium sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees, giving Michigan’s college grads with international business majors options to pursue work with multi-national automotive industry giants or smaller operations that are expanding their reach into foreign markets.
As the center of the United States automobile industry, Michigan has always been a major player in foreign trade and international business, supplying vehicles, parts, as well as automotive manufacturing equipment to markets across the globe. Although the nation’s automobile industry suffered a downturn during the 2008 recession, government initiatives and industry innovations have brought American automobiles back in a big way.
Michigan-based companies have also helped the state diversify its export base to better stabilize the local economy in an effort to hedge against future downturns that affect specific industries. According to the Business Roundtable, an association of top CEOs from America’s largest corporations, foreign trade directly and indirectly supports over one million jobs in the state.
Not surprisingly, transportation equipment is Michigan’s largest export, accounting for $21.9 billion in foreign exports. Industrial chemicals, machinery, primary metals and electronics followed, helping to diversify Michigan’s export base.
Michigan’s International Trade Partners
Canada was Michigan’s largest trade partner, receiving $22.1 billion in imported goods and raw materials from the state in 2010, which accounted for nearly half of the state’s total foreign trade that year. Mexico was number two, receiving $7.4 billion in imports from Michigan, followed by Germany with $1.5 billion.
The Business Roundtable has found China to be one of Michigan’s fastest growing trade markets. China has proven to be a rapidly growing economic powerhouse and recorded $2.2 billion in trade with Michigan in 2010, a dramatic increase from 2005 totals of just $699 million.
Michigan is also poised to take advantage of the new U.S.-Columbia Trade Promotion agreement. This agreement will allow more than 20% of the state’s exports to be tariff free, giving Michigan-based companies a $3.2 million cost advantage over other countries that do not have similar trade agreements in place. These duty free exports will include fabricated metal products, vehicles, auto parts and processed foods.
International Business Jobs in Michigan
According to the International Trade Administration, as of 2010 foreign-controlled companies employed 134,800 Michigan workers and corporate professionals, which accounted for more than four percent of total private-sector employment in the state. In fact, according to the Business Roundtable, over 1,000 U.S. affiliates and subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies from 20 countries have significant operations in Michigan.
A selection of major companies with operations in Michigan includes Mitsubishi of Japan, which runs a research and development facility in Ann Arbor, and Panasonic of Osaka, Japan, which has the base of its Automotive Electronics Company division in Southfield.
Hyundai of Korea operates its Hyundai America Technical Center in Superior Township. This state-of-the-art facility is the core research base for production and sales support in North America. Hyundai recently announced that it is adding 50 more positions to the America Technical Center, and will be investing $15 million to construct a new testing laboratory.
As these companies continue to expand both here and abroad, they will continue to require corporate professionals with expertise in the areas of international business management, international accounting, international business consultation, as well as international marketing and foreign market research analysis.
Making International Business Contacts in Michigan
Michigan is rich in resources for those seeking information about careers in international business: