The phantom chemicals boom

| Print |  Email
Monday, June 01, 2009
Given China’s remarkable economic rise over the past decade, it comes as no surprise that it has grown into Oregon’s largest export market, with the state’s savviest players such as Nike and Intel well embedded there and prospering as a result. But it is surprising which sector has seen the sharpest growth: chemicals.

Statistics compiled by WISER Trade, a Massachusetts-based firm recognized as an expert on exports, show an astronomical 292% increase in chemicals exported from Oregon to China from 2007 to 2008, catapulting them over scrap waste and paper to become the state’s second-biggest China-bound export behind only computer and electronic products.

But if you’re wondering which Oregon companies are benefiting from this trend and whether it is expected to continue, don’t waste your time. There is no trend.

The biggest clue can be found in the corresponding fall-off for exported minerals, which dropped dramatically at the precise time that the chemical numbers shot up. Hmmm.

It turns out that the great boom in chemicals exported from Oregon to China has nothing to do with Oregon business and everything to do with a change in the classification of potash mined in Saskatchewan, sent by rail to Portland and shipped around the world as fertilizer. The market for this chemical (or is it a mineral?) made a few investors temporarily rich during the commodity boom of 2008, but that boom has gone bust along with trade in general. Vessel calls and tonnage are down more than 30% at the Port of Portland, and Oregon will be hard pressed to approach, much less improve on, the record $2.5 billion worth of exports shipped to China last year.
BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

4 married couples who work together

The Latest
Thursday, January 22, 2015
IMG 0020BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

They say maintaining a healthy marriage takes work. So does running a business with your spouse.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Tortoise and the Hare

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015

The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average. 


Read more...

How Oregon will survive the loss of Hanjin

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT | OB CONTRIBUTOR

"Shipping containers to Portland is like waiting for a bus that travels once a day."


Read more...

Tweeting Portland's State of the City address

News
Friday, January 30, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 3.08.19 PMBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

For those who were working, here are a few highlights of Charlie Hales' State of the City address.


Read more...

5 schools helping students crack code

The Latest
Thursday, January 29, 2015
codeduthumbnailBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As the costs of college mount, and as employer demand for software developers soars, coding schools and classes are popping up everywhere.


Read more...

Green Rush: Cashing in on legal marijuana

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Marijuana is big business in Oregon, and it’s about to get bigger.


Read more...

4 highlights of the MLS labor deal

The Latest
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
timbersthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS