South Carolina’s total export sales set a record for the eighth consecutive year, topping $32 billion in 2017.
The state exported $32.2 billion in products to more than 190 countries, a 2.9% increase from 2016 and 16th in the nation, according to the S.C. Department of Commerce’s 2017 International Trade Report (.pdf).
Vehicle exports led the way at more than $11 billion, followed by aircraft at $6 billion and machinery at almost $4 billion. Rubber exports reached $2 billion and electrical machinery was nearly $1 billion, with all other categories combined accounting for more than $8 billion.
Most of the state’s exports — 19% — went to China, with 12% going to Canada and 11% to Germany.
“The Palmetto State has a long and rich history in international trade,” S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said in a news release. “One time a leader in the export of rice, indigo and cotton, we now export a more diverse group of products, including complex items such as cars, planes and major household appliances.”
The Commerce Department credited the S.C. Export Incentives Program for the steady export growth, which has risen each year since 2011’s total of $24.7 billion. The program reimburses small and midsize businesses that participate in trade missions and exhibitions, and it finances export training.
The department said 53 companies participated in the initiative in fiscal year 2017, attending 32 trade shows and missions that helped them reach more than 30 new markets and achieve $151 million in export sales.