New Report Details Large Increases in Exports to China from All US States

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by Alex Forster
A Chinese cargo ship docked in the Port of Seattle. China was Washington’s largest export destination in 2015, at nearly double the value of exports to Canada, the state’s neighbor to the north. Image: Flickr user Bari Bookout (redyamflan).

A recent report by the US-China Business Council detailed the significant level of US exports to China, finding that China is a hugely important market to a large majority of states across the US. China was among the top five largest export destinations for 46 of the 50 states, and ranked in the top three export destinations in 33 of those. The level of exports to China from all states has grown considerably over the last decade, with strong increases in both goods and services exports. The report found that 31 states had seen growth of 100% or greater in goods exports, with four states seeing gains as high as 500%, while all 50 states saw growth over 100% in services exports, with 10 seeing at least 400% increases.

Alabama, North Dakota, and South Carolina each saw over 500% growth in goods exports to China between 2006 and 2015, while Montana’s exports to China climbed roughly 870%. Food crops were Montana’s biggest export to China in 2015, accounting for nearly 64% of the state’s total goods exports. In North Dakota, food crops were also the largest export, accounting for over 98% of the state’s goods exports to China. In both Alabama and South Carolina, transportation equipment was the largest export to China, accounting for two-thirds of total goods exports in both cases and valued at $2 billion and $3 billion, respectively.

In terms of services exports, where every single state saw triple digit growth from 2006 to 2014, travel and education is one of the biggest drivers of the growth. China’s economic growth has enabled more Chinese tourists to visit the US and more Chinese students to enroll in US educational institutions, where their tuition and living expenses contribute to the local economy. China overtook India as the largest source of international students in the US in 2010, and now accounts for 30% of all international students. Chinese tourists in the US spent over $24 billion in 2014, and continued growth in tourism from China is expected to create an additional 440,000 jobs in the US over the next five years.