2020 State Export Report


On this page, you can find the executive summary of the 2020 State Exports Report, a table of the most important data points, an interactive map to find data from your home state, and of course, a link to the full report!

Executive Summary

Over the past two years, tariffs and an uncertain business environment have prompted precipitous declines in US exports to China that have not been fully made up by export growth to other markets. For the second year in a row, US goods exports to China fell. Services exports to China grew in 2018, but at roughly the same slow pace as 2017. Despite these challenges, exports to China continued to be important to US economic growth, supporting just under one million jobs.

  • Goods exports to China have fallen to their lowest level since 2011. US goods exports to China contracted 11.4 percent in 2019 to $104.8 billion after contracting by more than 7 percent the year prior. Only two fifths of states saw growth in goods exports to China last year. 
  • Services exports to China have plateaued. Services exports to China have been one of the remarkable highlights of US export expansion, growing 230 percent in the past decade of available data. Yet from 2016 to 2018, services exports to China grew at just 2 percent on average, compared to more than 18 percent on average from 2009 to 2016. 
  • However, China still managed to be the third-largest market for US goods and services exporters. Despite frictions and tariffs, China is still a top market for US exporters, reflecting the important commercial opportunity it presents to American businesses. Only USMCA partners Canada and Mexico bought more goods from the United States last year. For services, China remained the third-largest export market after the United Kingdom and Canada. 
  • Exports to China impact nearly all US states in a wide range of industries. China was a top five goods export destination for 42 states in 2019. Many states generate substantial economic value from service exports, from licensing royalties to tourist spending. In 2019, the top US goods exports to China included aerospace products and parts, semiconductors and components, and oilseeds and grains. 
  • Phase One trade commitments could result in a spike in exports. If China meets its commitments to significantly increase purchases of US goods in the next two years, agreed to in the Phase One trade deal reached in early 2020, there could be a sharp uptick in exports this year.

Goods Exports

  • US goods exports to China declined last year. In 2019, the United States exported just under $105 billion in goods to China. The decline in 2019 marks a continued slide from a high point in 2017, when American firms sent a total of $127 billion worth of goods to the China market, resulting in a two-year contraction of 18 percent. The declines are at least in part the result of US tariffs and retaliatory tariffs enacted by China.
  • Growth in US goods exports to China over the last decade now trails US export growth to the rest of the world. US goods exports to China increased at a rate of only 16 percent over the last decade, while exports to the rest of the world grew 29 percent over the same period.

Services Exports

  • US services exports to China continued to grow at a sluggish pace in 2018, the latest year of full data. Growth of US services exports to China had already fallen to 2.3 percent in 2017, and that growth fell to an even more anemic 1.6 percent in 2018. Growth in the United States’s top two markets outstripped expansion to China, as the United Kingdom and Canada chalked up six and 10 percent growth, respectively. 
  • Still, when viewed over the last decade, the picture is less bleak—US services exports to China have grown a whopping 230 percent from 2009 to 2018, more than any other top market.

Exports and US Jobs

  • Exports to China continue to be an important stabilizer of jobs in the United States. US exports to China support over one thousand jobs in all but one US state, and over ten thousand jobs in 30 states.
  • Falling exports to China have negatively impacted job numbers. While in 2017, combined goods and services exports to China supported over 1.1 million jobs across the country, in 2018, the number fell to under one million. 

Impact of Trade Frictions on States

  • Only half of states exported more goods to China in 2019 than they did in 2010, and only 20 states exported more in 2019 than they did in 2018. While some states like South Carolina have become success stories, others have seen sharp declines over the past two years. Missouri, for example, sold between $1.5 and $2 billion of goods to China each year between 2010 and 2017, but that value fell below $1 billion in 2018, rebounding only slightly in 2019. Washington state had sold more than $11 billion of goods to China every year since 2013, but exports to China fell to just over $5 billion last year. 
  • Trade disputes affected the overall value of exports to China. In 2017, 30 states exported more than $1 billion of goods to China; in 2019, only 27 states were able to do so. In 2017 and 2018, only 15 states managed to export more than $1 billion in services to China. Policies affecting travel and student visas may result in lower numbers for 2019.
  • China remains among the top five goods and services export markets for most states. China was among the top five goods markets for 42 states. In services, China was the top market for 8 states in 2018, and a top five market for 49 states.  

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