US merchandise exports reached record levels in both 2011 and 2012, with 2013 remaining on pace to beat the record once again, according to the US International Trade Administration (ITA). In the first six months of 2013, export growth rates were consistently high for all states, reaching $781bn in total merchandise exports, compared with $773bn in the same period in 2012. Seventeen states experienced record highs, with the majority located on the east coast of the US. These states performed particularly well in transportation equipment and chemicals exports. On the west coast, Washington fared particularly well, being the fourth highest exporter among all states (with $39bn). Almost half of these exports ($18.6bn) went to Asia.

Texas continues to be the US's biggest exporting state ($134.4bn), backed as it is by high levels of petroleum and coal products. The southern state also grew the most in dollar terms, up $4.3bn from the equivalent period in 2012, with mroe than one-third ($49.4bn) of Texan goods exported to Mexico. Growth records in absolute terms were followed by Washington (up $3.8bn) and New York (up $2.8bn). The top five largest exporters accounted for more than 40% of total US exports, with California ($80.9bn) ranked second after Texas, followed by New York ($45.7bn), Washington ($39bn) and Illinois ($31.8bn).

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According to an ITA source, successful exports can be attributed to the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative (NEI), launched in 2010 in an attempt to drive an economic recovery backed by exports. The initiative set out to “double exports by 2014” by encouraging US small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, to focus on the global marketplace and engaging in more free-trade agreements. It is estimated that as many as 10 million US jobs are supported by exports, with 1.3 million jobs created after the NEI was launched.

Statistics on US exports retrieved from the World Trade Organisation and backed by ITA figures that show the top five receivers of US merchandise are Canada ($150.4bn), the EU ($129.7bn), Mexico ($110.7bn), China ($55.1bn) and Japan ($32.2 bn) accounting for more than 60% of all US merchandise exports. The top five US importers were China, the EU, Canada, Mexico and Japan.