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South Carolina boosts exports 21% in 2011

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Staff Report
Published Feb. 28, 2012

South Carolina’s 2011 exports totaled more than $24.6 billion in goods sold to 198 countries around the world, state officials announced today.

The data represent a 21.4% increase over 2010 totals. In 2011, South Carolina’s export growth ranked the state 14th in the U.S.


South Carolina ranked first in exports of automobiles to the world, according to state officials. In Spartanburg County, BMW currently produces the X3, X5 and X6 models, and plans to add the new X4 sports activity vehicle to its production line. (Photo/File)

South Carolina ranked first among U.S. states in tire exports, holding nearly 30% of the share of U.S.-made exported tires.

"South Carolina is poised to become the No. 1 tire-producing state in the U.S. and the tires that we make here are exported all over the world,” said Pete Selleck, chairman and president of Michelin North America.

In addition to ramped up production by Michelin, Bridgestone is spending more than $1 billion to expand its production capacity in Aiken, and Continental Tire, a German company, is building a tire manufacturing plant in Sumter County.

“This is great news for South Carolina. We will continue to work on improving and modernizing our ports system, which plays a key role in bringing companies from around the globe to our great state,” said Gov. Nikki Haley.

The state’s top 10 export industries last year were vehicles, machinery, rubber, electrical machinery, plastics, paper and paperboard, organic chemicals, optics and medical equipment, wood pulp, and cotton yarn and fabric. Of the top product sectors, the three experiencing the largest percentage increase were vehicles at a 52% increase, cotton yarn and fabric at nearly a 50% increase and electrical machinery at nearly a 25% increase.

“South Carolinians know how to make things — and we ship them the world over. Both Germany and Canada remain very important trade partners for South Carolina, and China is increasingly becoming a strong market for goods made in our state,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.

2011 S.C. export rankings among states:

  • Ranked 17th in exports.
  • Ranked only behind California in exports to Germany.
  • Ranked 4th in exports to Saudi Arabia.
  • Ranked 9th in exports to India.
  • Ranked 10th in exports to China.
  • Ranked first in exports of tires, holding nearly 30% of the share of U.S.-made exported tires.
  • Ranked first in exports of automobiles to the world, surpassing Michigan.
Posting a 36% increase from 2010, Germany overtook Canada again for the top spot as South Carolina’s No. 1 export market in 2011, purchasing nearly $4 billion in products. Canada was a close second, purchasing more than $3.7 billion in products. China remained at No. 3 in 2011, purchasing more than $3 billion. Rounding out the top 10 export markets in 2011 in order of rank were Mexico at No. 4, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Brazil, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

“Exporters in South Carolina's manufacturing and agricultural sectors benefit from access to competitive, deep-water port facilities,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority. “Growing our export base is essential to generating jobs in the maritime industry and across the state.”

South Carolina’s Department of Commerce has also taken an active role in helping the state’s small businesses and homegrown companies reach markets outside the U.S.

“The South Carolina Department of Commerce has raised the profile of our state and thereby lifted all its companies. With our highway and port infrastructure, our valuable timber commodity base and most importantly our Commerce Department's unprecedented passion for growth, our family business took a leap of faith to explore export opportunities and have been richly rewarded as such,” said Michael Johnson, CEO of Orangeburg-based Cox Industries.

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