A Glimpse into Oregon Imports and Exports

Global trade affects us all from our diet to the clothes we wear and the products we buy. Oregon is also not immune to the effects of global trade, exporting about $22 billion worth of goods in 2016 and importing about $17.6 billion worth of goods the same year. Top export partners include China, Malaysia, Canada, Vietnam and Japan and top import partners include Ireland, Canada, China, Japan and South Korea. The traded sectors of our economy support about 78,000 jobs related to manufacturing and about 6,000 businesses throughout the state.[1]

The Port of Coos Bay (Port) facilitates the export of natural resources-based products such as forest products and seafood in the Southwest Oregon region and beyond. The Port has direct involvement in both major industries on the South Coast, facilitating the movement of cargo through the federal navigation channel and ownership of the Charleston Marina. Below is a brief overview of these markets as well as other popular agricultural exports such as grain and potatoes.

Forestry Products

coos bay rail line hauling wood planks

Oregon is the largest lumber producer in the U.S. With 30.5 million acres of forestlands, about 50% of the total landmass of the state is covered in forest. Oregon exports more forest products and raw wood products than it imports and is home to many leading wood and paper product manufacturers, including Weyerhaeuser, Georgia-Pacific, Roseburg Forest Products and The Collins Companies. About 75% of all wood products made in Oregon are sold outside the state. The state dominates U.S. production of softwood lumber and plywood. It is also a leader in engineered wood and home to the first mill in the U.S. to manufacture structurally certified cross-laminated timber (CLT). Forest products play an essential role in the rural economies of Oregon as most of the jobs, wood processing plants, and industry related activities take place in rural Oregon. In Coos County, forest sector jobs make up about 9% of the county’s employment at 2,200 jobs.[2] In 2017, Oregon exported about 517,000 metric tons of forest products with a value of $88 million to destinations like China, Japan and Taiwan. Oregon also imports a lot of forest products from countries like Canada and Honduras to be processed in state. In total, Oregon imported bout 158,000 metric tons of forest products at a value of $17.5 million.[3]

Seafood Industry

crabbing in charleston oregon

The Oregon commercial fishing industry is an important contributor to the state's economy, especially for coastal communities along the Oregon coast. As a natural resource-based industry, it is very volatile such as the forest products industry. In 2016, Oregon commercial onshore harvests were valued at $144.1 million which is below the previous 5-year average of $154.4 million. In 2016, about 1,000 distinct vessels made a total of 27,365 landings at Oregon ports. These landings summed to 225.4 million pounds of fish (209.9M lbs. in 2015; 5-year average 291M). Newport and Astoria were the top ports in terms of both volume and value, each with about 1/3 of Oregon’s total onshore harvest value. The highest value fisheries were Dungeness crab ($51.3M), pink shrimp ($25.1M), ground fish ($16.8M; not including sablefish and whiting), and sablefish ($15.1M). The Pacific sardine directed fishery closure continued. Overall, the Oregon commercial fishing industry generated an estimated $544M in household income in 2016, about half of which originated from distant fisheries (e.g., Alaska fisheries, at-sea fisheries).[4] Oregon exported about 19,500 metric tons of seafood at a value of about $29 million to countries such as Japan, South Africa, Benin and Nigeria in 2017. Seafood imports totaled about 12,000 metric tons with a value of $64.8 million mostly from India, China and Chile.[5]

Transportation of fish and shellfish are affected by many factors including nature of the product, weak infrastructure in Oregon, inspection inefficiency, lack of critical mass to be cost effective, and cultural and language barriers. Fresh and chilled fish are usually shipped by air due to a shorter shelf life, while frozen marine products are more likely to be shipped by vessel.[6]

Grains Industry

what field in front of mt. hood oregon

Over the years, grain has consistently been one of the top five exports from the state of Oregon. Grains are mainly transported by rail, barge, and ocean freight. The current Pacific Northwest ocean freight rate to Japan is $25.25 per metric ton and is projected to continue to rise. Grain vessel loading activity out of the Pacific Northwest continues to be strong. The Midwest dominates most barge transportation of grains. Rail is used throughout the United States to transport grain to and from the Midwest to ports on the west coast for export to international markets.[7] More than 85% of Oregon-grown wheat is exported, making it the number one product exported through the Port of Portland by both volume and value.[8] The Columbia Plateau in northern Oregon is Oregon’s principal region for wheat production, followed by the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon.[9] In 2017, Oregon exported about 22,000 metric tons of grain by vessel with a total value of about $32.3 million. Top export destinations include China, Japan and Germany. Oregon also imports a lot of grain. Grain imports in 2017 totaled about 18,900 metric tons at a total value of about $19 million. Top countries of import include were India, China and the United Kingdom.[10]


oregon potatoes

55% of the US potato production is from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. In Oregon, 40,000 acres are used for potato cultivation with 74% grown in Northeast Oregon, 24% in Southern Oregon, and 2% in Northwest Oregon.[11] In 2016, potatoes were the sixth most valued agricultural commodity with a value of $187 million.[12]

In 2016, the United States potatoes and potato products were valued at a total of $3.1 billion. Japan, Mexico and South Korea were lead buyers of U.S. frozen potatoes. $1.52 billion of fresh potatoes was exported to major markets in Japan and Canada.[13] Oregon does not import any potatoes, it only exports. In 2017, Oregon exported about $14.7 million worth of potatoes which is about 28,000 metric tons. Top destinations of export were Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.[14]

These brief industry profiles are a small glimpse into the complex web of Oregon’s traded sectors and role in global trade. As global trade continues to grow and change, so will the Port of Coos Bay to meet tomorrow's traded sector needs. 


[1] https://globaledge.msu.edu/states/oregon/tradestats

[2] https://www.oregonforests.org/sites/default/files/2017-08/Economic_County_Sheets_2017.pdf

[3] https://usatrade.census.gov/

[4] http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/economic_impact.asp

[5] https://usatrade.census.gov

[6] http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/sites/seagrant.oregonstate.edu/files/sgpubs/onlinepubs/t13003-accessible.pdf

[7] https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/transportation-analysis/gtr

[8] https://oregonfresh.net/education/oregon-agriculture-production/oregon-wheat-industry/

[9] http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/shared/Documents/Publications/Administration/ORGrowingRegions.pdf

[10] https://usatrade.census.gov

[11] http://oregonstate.edu/dept/hermiston/sites/default/files/4_ssathuvali.pdf

[12] http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/shared/Documents/Publications/Administration/ORAgFactsFigures.pdf

[13] https://www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/vegetables/potato-profile/

[14] https://usatrade.census.gov/