- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 17, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Southern New Mexico has dethroned the central region of the state as New Mexico’s No.1 export zone thanks to a booming border port and declining activity at Intel Corp, according to a new U.S. Commerce Department report.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the U.S. Commerce Department data showed exports from the Albuquerque metropolitan area plummeted 43 percent last year, from $1.76 billion in 2015 to $1 billion in 2016.

Meanwhile, Dona Ana County’s exports declined by only 1.5 percent, to $1.57 billion, making it the state’s largest export zone for the first time.

Albuquerque Bernalillo County Trade Alliance manager Randy Trask says Albuquerque’s fall from grace is not a reflection of export stagnation in the metro area, but rather indicates the apparent shrinking role of the Rio Rancho computer chip manufacturer in the local economy.

For years, Intel shipments from the Rio Rancho plant to sister facilities in other countries have had a disproportionate impact on export statistics for the Albuquerque area and the state as a whole, skewing trade trends as the global tech giant shifted its focus among different world regions where Intel operates.

But activity at the Rio Rancho plant has been in decline, and it’s pulling the Albuquerque area’s export totals down significantly.

“It’s a result of Intel and what it may or may not be exporting from year to year,” Trask said.

The Rio Rancho plant is producing old technology, since no new upgrades have been made there since 2009, and its full-time workforce has dropped from 3,300 in 2013 to 1,200 as of last December.

Dona Ana County’s export stability, meanwhile, largely reflects booming activity at the Santa Teresa industrial parks along the Mexican border, where some 60 companies operate, said Jerry Pacheco, executive director of the International Business Accelerator at Santa Teresa.

Intel’s outsized impact on the Albuquerque (metropolitan statistical area) shows more work is needed to diversify the state’s export base,” Pacheco said. “We have to work harder to make sure we’re not so weighted in one area.”


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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