Governor Brian Kemp announced Monday that the State of Georgia ranked among the United States’ Top Ten exporting states in 2020 for the first time. Georgia merchandise exports reached 215 unique countries and territories and experienced the lowest rate of export contraction among all top ten states, despite headwinds from a global pandemic.
“I am incredibly proud of our Georgia businesses and our state agencies who have dedicated so much time and effort to help Peach State businesses of all sizes push forward in 2020,” Governor Kemp said. “Over the last year, hardworking Georgians showed their tenacity and their determination to transform obstacles into opportunities, and these numbers are yet another example of their strength.”
Georgia remained open for business in 2020, exporting $38.8 billion in goods as the state’s diverse industry base and global connectivity continued to drive its competitiveness. Total trade reached $137.7 billion in 2020, spanning 221 countries and territories. The state’s top five export markets were Canada, Germany, China, Mexico, and Singapore. Several export markets experienced significant growth, with exports to Germany increasing nearly 50%, followed by China and Hong Kong at 45% and 41%, respectively. Increased exports to China reflect purchases made under the Phase 1 trade agreement signed by the U.S. and China in January of 2020, and the return of market access for U.S. poultry proved beneficial to Georgia producers.
Approximately two-thirds of Georgia trade involves the 12 strategic markets where the state maintains representation: Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Europe, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru, and the United Kingdom. GDEcD’s international representatives play a critical role in facilitating global connections that generate economic success.
“Georgia’s network of international representatives around the world provide our state’s businesses with a unique resource. Particularly during 2020, when needs, supply chains, and conditions were changing rapidly, our international offices provided timely information that proved to be an incredible asset for our state’s growers, manufacturers, and business community as a whole,” Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said. “Our trade team here at home and around the globe has again shown how their work combined with the state’s ports, enhances connectivity of Georgia businesses to the rest of the world.”
Approximately 90% of Georgia merchandise exports are manufactured goods, and the state’s manufacturing exports have grown by more than 30% over the last 10 years alone. Georgia’s second-largest manufacturing industry, aerospace products, remain the state’s No. 1 export, totaling $9.98 billion in 2020. Aerospace exports to Hong Kong surged more than 140% last year, while Germany remains the top customer for these products.
Georgia’s deepwater ports and ideal location in the Southeast for original equipment manufacturers helped drive a 13% surge in automotive exports over 2019. The state’s robust automotive industry increased exports nearly 600% to Germany and more than 800% to China.
The deep roots of Georgia’s agriculture industry continued to reap economic benefits in 2020, delivering $4.25 billion in global exports, maintaining its export totals from 2019. Georgia remains a leading state for poultry, cotton, and peanuts, as well as forest products.
“Georgia’s exporting story is one of resilience. Our trade team primarily serves small to medium-sized businesses, and this report shows that, no matter the circumstances, our businesses will find a way to reach global customers. We want to thank them for their partnership and encourage them to continue working with our team of experts in Georgia and around the world to reach their goals,” said Deputy Commissioner for International Trade Mary Waters. “Our businesses don’t have to navigate new markets alone. Georgia offers companies an array of resources that provide guidance and reduce barriers to entry.”
This announcement comes on the heels of the Georgia Ports Authority reporting growth during 2020. The Georgia Ports Authority moved more than 4.68 million twenty-foot equivalent container units in 2020, up 1.8% over its 2019 total of 4.59 million. Total cargo crossing all docks in 2020 reached 38.4 million tons.
Recently, the International Trade division launched Go Global Georgia, an initiative to provide funding for small business exporters and bolster new global opportunities.
Also in 2020, the state’s International Trade division earned an impressive fourth President’s “E Star” Award for Export Service from the U.S. Department of Commerce in recognition of “continuing significant contributions to an increase in U.S. exports.” The award is the highest honor given to providers of services to U.S. exporters. GDEcD is the first entity in the nation to earn a fourth “E” Award.
To read the full 2020 global trade summary, click here.