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State export sales eclipse $30B in 2015

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By Matthew Clark
Published Feb. 18, 2016

Export sales of South Carolina-produced products were valued at more than $30 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The total value was a 4.2% increase over 2014. The value accounted for 12% of the total national export market share.

It is the sixth straight year South Carolina has had record export value growth, according to the S.C. Department of Commerce. The state was also ranked as the top state in the Southeast region for export growth.

According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, the state’s $1.2 billion increase was second only to Arizona for the largest year-over-year increase. Larger export states such as Texas, California and New York all experienced year-over-year decreases in the value of exports. South Carolina was 15th overall in exports for 2015.

South Carolina accounted for 18% of all completed passenger motor vehicle exports from the United States. Exports from the BMW Manufacturing Plant in Greer were valued at $9.8 billion in 2015, a 13% increase over the approximately $9.2 billion in 2014.

The top receiver of South Carolina-produced goods and services was China with over $4.4 billion in export sales. Germany – which received $3.35 billion in BMW automotive exports – was behind China in exports from the state. Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Belgium and South Korea rounded out the 10 counties receiving the most exports from South Carolina.

In a statement, Gov. Nikki Haley said the state is “just getting started” with export growth as she said new companies continue to invest in the state.

“Companies continue to trust the people of South Carolina to build their products because they make up a workforce that has built a remarkable reputation as one of the best in the world,” Haley said.

In addition to leading the nation in the export of tires and completed automotive passenger motor vehicles, the state had more than $4 billion in aircraft and spacecraft export sales, a 176% increase over 2014. South Carolina’s export value in aircraft and spacecraft was approximately 12% of the nation’s market share. The state was also the top exporter of both ball and roller bearings and lawn mowers in 2015.

In conjunction with the increase in export value, the S.C. State Ports Authority reported a 10% growth in container volume for calendar year 2015. Jim Newsome, ports authority president and CEO, said the continued growth of exports out of South Carolina is a “key driver” to the authority’s growth above the U.S. ports average. The Port of Charleston is eyeing a project to deepen the harbor to 52 feet, a project with a $521 million price tag.

“Combined with other planned improvements to our terminals and infrastructure, (the ports authority) is well-poised to meet the needs of our state’s exporters and enhance South Carolina’s presence in the global marketplace,” Newsome said in a statement.

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-235-5677, ext. 107, or @matthewclark76 on Twitter.

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