One component of the overall U.S. economy that continues to show signs of strength is export activity.
New data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration shows export volumes through the first half of the year at $773.4 billion, up more than 7 percent over the same period in 2011. And 2011 was a pretty good year for export activity, when volume rose more than 16 percent from 2010.
All but two of the top 20 exporting states outpaced their export volumes in the first half of the year. Here’s how the top five fared compared to the same period in 2011:
1. Texas: Up 7.6%
2. California: Up 6%
3. New York: Down 1.2%
4. Washington: Up 15.8%
5. Illinois: Up 11.4%
Promoting export activity has taken on increased importance in many states. In Kentucky, for example, where merchandise exports grow nearly 8 percent to more than $10.7 billion in the first half of 2012, the state has launched a number of initiatives to encourage businesses to think globally. And not just its big companies, either.
The state-sponsored Kentucky Export Initiative is a consortium of trade-related organizations across the state works to encourage export growth by small and medium-size Kentucky companies. To date, nearly 60 companies have been awarded more than $350,000 through the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program.
New Jersey’s highly diverse economy includes major industry segments in pharmaceuticals, life sciences and finance. It’s also a major center of global business, with headquarters for nearly two dozen Fortune 500 companies that do business around the globe.
And global business is a two-way street. The state is a major exporter of such products as chemicals, petroleum and electronics, more than $38 billion in total in 2011, many of which are shipped via the state’s extensive port facilities.
In South Carolina, where trade volume was up nearly 22 percent in 2011, the state takes advantage of both key logistics advantages including the Port of Charleston and an aggressive suite or services including market research and overseas market promotion to help Palmetto State companies create global business opportunities. The state is No. 1 in the nation for exports of auto and tire exports.
How does your state stack up in promoting export activity, especially for small and medium-size companies? How does your organization encourage companies in your market to get involved in global business? Share your thoughts.