By: Dr. Lynn Reaser
President Obama set a goal in his State of the Union speech in early 2010 to double U.S. exports in five years. Although U.S. exports have displayed considerable strength, San Diego has lagged behind. A recent study conducted by the Brookings Institute severely criticized our region for its shortcomings.
Although San Diego does face constraints from both its seaport and airport facilities, our region holds enormous promise for exports. San Diego has great potential for exporting agricultural products, manufactured goods, and services in the period ahead. Mexico’s manufacturing renaissance affords San Diego firms an exemplary opportunity to export various parts and components. San Diego merchants can also benefit from rising incomes in Mexico and the preference for cross-border shopping.
Our exports of produce and consumer goods should find receptive markets in the growing Asian economies. High-tech electronics, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sporting goods, and other products hold bright export prospects. Finally, the strength of our tourism, higher education, software development, and engineering talents can boost San Diego’s important service exports.
Perhaps the biggest road block to realizing our export potential lies in the reluctance of many small and midsize firms to tackle markets away from home. But those fears should be overcome as exports provide enormous promise for ongoing growth.