Puget Sound’s Trade and Competitiveness

International Trade Is More Than Exports & Imports
International business in Greater Seattle means more than exports and imports, it means students, tourism, research, international investment, sports and much more.

International Students

  • Each year, more than 11,000 international students study at our universities, community colleges and other institutions of learning. These students contribute more than $200 million to the Washington state economy each year
  • Two of Puget Sound’s community colleges-Bellevue and Edmonds-are among the largest recipient of international students in the country.
  • Today’s international students studying in Puget Sound institutions-after developing connections and an affinity with our region–become tomorrow’s trade, business, and tourism partners when back in their countries


  • Nearly half a million international tourists travel to Washington state each year.
  • Two of the biggest sources of tourists are from our large trading partners: UK and Japan


  • Companies with international ownership employ tens of thousands of people throughout the Puget Sound region. From downtown Seattle hotels to medical companies in Snohomish County to logistics companies in Pierce County, they provide economic dynamism and jobs to our region.
  • The promotion of investment opportunities is part of the global competition. Many countries (and states) provide significant financial and other incentives for companies to locate in their regions.

Our quality of life has proven to attract top talent in the arts and business as well as companies, further strengthening our region. Our culture is often driven by international aspects in our museums and theatres and annual festivals held throughout the region. Our international restaurants help make the region a comfortable place for international business.

  • Seattle Art Museum and Asian Art Museum, Museum of Glass and other exhibits throughout the region host international exhibits that draw tourists and international visitors.
  • From the Seattle International Film Festival to BrazilFest to the Arab Festival, each year the region benefits from exposure to international cultures.
  • International cuisine in the region is drawn from nearly every corner of the globe, including Thai, West African, German and Brazilian.

Numerous nonprofit organizations in the region work throughout the world. In addition to the good work and good will they create, these institutions employ numerous people throughout the Puget Sound region. The Gates Foundation, for example, working on health issues in the developing world, employs 84 people in the region. World Vision employs more than 400. Other institutions such as the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have numerous international ties and partnerships. Fred Hutchinson Center treats international patients, as do many of the other medical institutions in the region.


Return to Main