Kentucky Trade Facts

  • In 2018, Kentucky exported a record $31.8 billion of Made-in-America goods to the world. In 2016, exports from Kentucky supported an estimated 144 thousand jobs.

Exports from Kentucky and Jobs

  • Kentucky was the 17th largest state exporter of goods in 2018.
  • In 2018, Kentucky goods exports were $31.8 billion, an increase of 66 percent ($13 billion) from its export level in 2008.
  • Goods exports accounted for 15.3 percent of Kentucky GDP in 2018.
  • Kentucky goods exports in 2016 (latest year available) supported an estimated 144 thousand jobs. Nationally, jobs supported by goods exports pay up to an estimated 18 percent above the national average.

Made-in-America Manufacturing Exports from Kentucky and Jobs

  • In 2018, Kentucky exported $31.2 billion of manufactured products.
  • Kentucky exports of manufactured products supported an estimated 134 thousand jobs in 2016.
  • The state's largest manufacturing export category is transportation equipment, which accounted for $17.6 billion of Kentucky's total goods exports in 2018.
  • Other top manufacturing exports are chemicals ($4.5 billion), computer & electronic products ($1.9 billion), machinery, except electrical ($1.6 billion), and miscellaneous manufactured commodities ($843 million).

Exports Sustain Thousands of Kentucky Businesses many of which are SMEs

  • A total of 4,471 companies exported from Kentucky locations in 2016 (latest year available). Of those, 3,479 (78 percent) were small and medium sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Small and medium-sized firms generated 43.7 percent of Kentucky's total exports of goods in 2016.

Kentucky Depends on World Markets

  • The state’s largest market was Canada. Kentucky exported $7.8 billion in goods to Canada in 2018, representing 24 percent of the state’s total goods exports.
  • Canada was followed by France ($3.3 billion), United Kingdom ($3.0 billion), Brazil ($2.5 billion), and Mexico ($2.3 billion).
  • Kentucky’s exports (2018 value) to major world areas included:


2018 Value


$16.8 billion


$7.0 billion

European Union

$11.0 billion

South/Central America and Caribbean

$3.0 billion

Sub-Saharan Africa

$78 million

  • 39 percent of Kentucky’s exports ($12.3 billion) go to current FTA partners. 

Agriculture in Kentucky depends on Exports

  • Kentucky is the country’s 20th largest agricultural exporting state, shipping $2.1 billion in domestic agricultural exports abroad in 2017 (latest data available according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture).[1]
  • Top Agricultural exports (2017 value) were:


2017 Value

 2017 State Rank


$479 million


other livestock products

$429 million



$253 million


feeds and other feed grains

$142 million



$140 million



International Investment Creates Jobs in Kentucky

  • In 2015 (latest data available), foreign-controlled companies employed 129,400 Kentucky workers. Major sources of foreign investment in Kentucky included Japan, Germany and France.
  • Foreign investment in Kentucky was responsible for 7.4 percent of the state's total private-industry employment in 2015.

Kentucky’s Major Metropolitan Areas Benefit from Exporting

  • In 2017 (latest data available), the following metropolitan areas in Kentucky recorded goods exports: Cincinnati ($28.6 billion), Louisville ($8.9 billion), Evansville ($4 billion), Lexington ($2.1 billion), Huntington ($1.1 billion), Clarksville ($360.2 million), Bowling Green ($284.2 million), Elizabethtown ($216.2 million), Owensboro ($102.1 million).

[1] Estimates of state exports of agricultural products by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and goods exports by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce are based on different methodologies and are not directly comparable.