A comparative analysis reveals that the leading U.S. exporting states tend to export the same types of products to the same foreign markets.

For example, California and Texas, the two largest exporting states, both rank electrical products and industrial machinery as their top two exports, and they both sell these products to Canada, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

What Products Are the Top Exporting States Selling Abroad?

In 1997, the eight leading U.S. exporting states were California, Texas, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Washington, Ohio and Florida. Companies located in these states sold slightly more than half of all U.S. exports.

Not surprisingly, industrial machinery, computers, electrical products, transportation equipment, and chemical products ranked among each state’s top seven exports.

In addition, scientific and measuring instruments, food products, refined petroleum, primary metals, fabricated metal products, agricultural goods, and livestock were often found at the top of the list of several leading exporting states.

What Foreign Markets Are Targeted?

All eight leading exporting states reported Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom to be among their 10 best export destinations. Six of the eight states also included Mexico and Germany in this list.

Florida was the only state whose top eight export destinations were in Latin America.

Exporters Will Benefit from Asian Economic Recovery

Based on first quarter 1998 statistics of the eight top exporting states, California was the largest exporter to the Asian 10. The Asian 10 consists of: China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Washington ranked second, followed by New York, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Florida, respectively. As Asia recovers from its financial crisis, exporters in these states stand to benefit a great deal.

Consider the Performance of Other States

Smaller exporting states share many similarities with the leading exporting states. For example, North Carolina, the 14th largest exporter, also lists Canada, Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany as its five best performing markets.

Additionally, North Carolina’s four largest exports include electric and electrical products, transportation equipment, industrial machinery, and chemical products.

But unlike the top performers, North Carolina is a major producer and exporter of textile mill products, and rubber and plastic products.

What Does This Mean for Your Business?

Depending on your company’s level of global competitiveness, it could mean a great deal. For example, if you’re willing to go head-to-head with the most competitive U.S. exporters, you may choose to follow the leading exporting states and target the same foreign markets.

On the other hand, if you’re not willing to do this, you may consider pursuing smaller, less popular foreign markets that may not be attractive to larger exporters, but just right for you.

As industries become more export savvy, the domestic demand for components — for use in products for export — will continue to increase. Thus, if you’re a small manufacturer without international experience, you might choose a third course: selling components to exporters in larger exporting states.

Information Is Key to Choosing a Strategy that Works for You

Depending on which strategy you choose — following the lead of successful exporting states, targeting smaller foreign markets or pursuing the domestic component market — you need to know the states and industries which are the most export active.

This article appeared in April 1999. (BA)
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John Manzella
About The Author John Manzella [Full Bio]
John Manzella, founder of the ManzellaReport.com, is a world-recognized speaker, author of several books, and a nationally syndicated columnist on global business, emerging risks and economic trends. His latest book is Global America: Understanding Global and Economic Trends and How To Ensure Competitiveness.




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