In its report on Oklahoma’s trade activity for 2010, the International Trade Administration revealed that Oklahoma had exported $5.4 billion in goods to overseas markets that year. As of 2009, the last year for which information was released, 2,404 Oklahoma-based companies were involved in the international export of goods and raw materials. It was found that 85 percent of these international exporters were classified as small to medium-sized companies made up of 500 employees or fewer. These smaller enterprises were responsible for 32 percent of the state’s total international exports in 2009. Students in Oklahoma’s respected business schools pursuing international business majors see a unique opportunity with these independent companies, especially considering how Oklahoma’s business incentive programs and tax structures are helping the state become a significant contributor to international trade for the United States.
Oklahoma’s natural resources make it a powerhouse in the energy industry. Oklahoma City alone is home to three pillars of the global energy market: DEVON Energy, Chesapeake Energy and OGE Energy. The International Trade Administration lists machinery manufactures as the state’s largest merchandise exporters. These industrial machinery exports accounted for $1.4 billion of the state’s total international exports in 2010. According to the Greater Oklahoma City Economic Development Partnership, Oklahoma is the largest U.S. exporter to international markets of industrial pumps and other machinery used in the extraction and refining of oil and natural gas. Oklahoma’s diverse international export base also includes transportation equipment, which totaled $591 million, computers and electronic products valued at $539 million, processed foods at $452 million and fabricated metal, which totaled $417 million in 2010.
In 2009, the Tulsa metropolitan area led the state in international commerce, exporting $2.4 billion in merchandise, or 51 percent of Oklahoma’s total international exports that year. Oklahoma City followed with $988 million in exported goods. Fort Smith, an area that includes some counties in Arkansas, ranked third with $318 million in merchandise and raw material exports.
Oklahoma’s International Trade Partners
Oklahoma’s largest international business market is Canada. In 2010, Oklahoma exported $1.9 billion in merchandise to Canada, which represented 35 percent of the state’s total exports. Mexico is Oklahoma’s next largest international trade partner, buying $424 million worth of Oklahoma’s exports in 2010. Next was Japan, which contributed $348 million to Oklahoma’s export market, followed by China with $243 million and Russia with $194 million.
International Business Jobs in Oklahoma
Investment in Oklahoma by foreign-based multi-nationals was responsible for 2.8 percent of private-industry employment in 2009. That year, foreign-controlled companies based in France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany employed 34,300 workers and corporate professionals in the state. Export-supported manufacturing jobs made up 4.9 percent of total employment in the state’s private sector, and 22.5 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the state that year.
Oklahoma is home to a number of large energy corporations including DEVON Energy and Chesapeake Energy. These Oklahoma City–based companies are the United State’s number one and number two producers of natural gas and are key players in Oklahoma’s international energy and machinery exports. In addition to natural gas and oil production, these companies manufacture much of the machinery and equipment vital to the international energy industry. Both companies made Fortune Magazine’s 2011 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For.
Companies like these with powerful export operations, depend on a dedicated staff of international business experts to manage and support the international trade component of the business. International business consultants and managers create business strategies around logistical, legal and cultural protocols within foreign countries. Custom brokers, trade specialists, import/export compliance officers and supply chain managers also play a vital role in helping to ensure that the products produced by these companies reach wholesale buyers in foreign markets.
Making International Business Contacts in Oklahoma
Oklahoma offers a number of resources for those seeking information about the impact of international business on the state: