Report: Trade supports 128K jobs in R.I.

PROVIDENCE – International trade in Rhode Island supported 128,100 jobs in 2017, according to a Business Roundtable report released this week.

The report said that the Ocean State exported an estimated $2.4 billion in goods in 2017 and $1.9 billion in services to 151 countries and territories in the world.

The sectors most tied to trade by employment were:

  • Trade and distribution (27,500 jobs in Rhode Island)
  • Professional, scientific and technology services (21,600 jobs)
  • Personal and recreational services (9,200 jobs)
  • Finance and insurance (7,700 jobs)
  • Manufacturing (5,700 jobs)

The top goods exports in Rhode Island were scrap metal ($489 million), miscellaneous manufactured products ($328 million), nonferrous metal products ($218 million), pharmaceuticals and medicines ($147 million), and basic chemicals ($105 million).

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The top services exported from Rhode Island in 2017 were travel ($689 million), management and advisory services ($195 million), and insurance services ($131 million).

The Business Roundtable said that the state’s fastest-growing export from 2007 to 2017 was household appliances, increasing 692% to $39 million.

Large companies were reported to make up 37% of the state’s exports in 2017, with the remainder being provided by small and medium sized enterprises. Exports accounted for roughly 7.2% of Rhode Island gross domestic product in 2017.

Canada accounted for the most export value from Rhode Island at an estimated $641 million in value, followed by China ($332 million) and Mexico ($317 million). Rhode Island exports to Canada and Mexico has increased 116 percent since the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994.

Since 2007, goods exports to countries that have free-trade agreements with the United States have increased 52%, compared with overall growth in goods exports of 44 percent.

The report also said that in 2017, there were 1,497 companies in Rhode Island importing goods.

In addition to trade, the report included data on investments by foreign-owned companies in the Ocean State. For instance, 26,500 Rhode Island workers were employed by foreign-owned companies, led by 4.700 workers with jobs by companies based in the United Kingdom.