North Carolina

North Carolina Trade Facts

  • In 2018, North Carolina exported a record $32.8 billion of Made-in-America goods to the world. In 2016, exports from North Carolina supported an estimated 157 thousand jobs.

Exports from North Carolina and Jobs

  • North Carolina was the 15th largest state exporter of goods in 2018.
  • In 2018, North Carolina goods exports were $32.8 billion, an increase of 31 percent ($7.7 billion) from its export level in 2008.
  • Goods exports accounted for 5.8 percent of North Carolina GDP in 2018.
  • North Carolina goods exports in 2016 (latest year available) supported an estimated 157 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 North Carolina and Jobs

  • In 2018, North Carolina exported $31.1 billion of manufactured products.
  • North Carolina exports of manufactured products supported an estimated 146 thousand jobs in 2016.
  • The state's largest manufacturing export category is chemicals, which accounted for $7.6 billion of North Carolina's total goods exports in 2018.
  • Other top manufacturing exports are transportation equipment ($4.4 billion), machinery, except electrical ($4.3 billion), computer & electronic products ($2.2 billion), and textiles & fabrics ($2.0 billion).

Exports Sustain Thousands of North Carolina Businesses many of which are SMEs

  • A total of 10,717 companies exported from North Carolina locations in 2016 (latest year available). Of those, 9,339 (87 percent) were small and medium sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Small and medium-sized firms generated 25.1 percent of North Carolina's total exports of goods in 2016.

North Carolina Depends on World Markets

  • The state’s largest market was Canada. North Carolina exported $6.7 billion in goods to Canada in 2018, representing 20 percent of the state’s total goods exports.
  • Canada was followed by Mexico ($3.8 billion), China ($2.3 billion), France ($1.9 billion), and Japan ($1.6 billion).
  • North Carolina’s exports (2018 value) to major world areas included:


2018 Value


$18.1 billion


$9.3 billion

European Union

$8.4 billion

South/Central America and Caribbean

$3.2 billion

Sub-Saharan Africa

$207 million

  • 44 percent of North Carolina’s exports ($14.6 billion) go to current FTA partners. 

Agriculture in North Carolina depends on Exports

  • North Carolina is the country’s 13th largest agricultural exporting state, shipping $3.6 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


$721 million



$504 million


other plant products

$445 million


broiler meat

$372 million



$321 million



International Investment Creates Jobs in North Carolina

  • In 2015 (latest data available), foreign-controlled companies employed 260,400 North Carolina workers. Major sources of foreign investment in North Carolina included the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.
  • Foreign investment in North Carolina was responsible for 7.0 percent of the state's total private-industry employment in 2015.

North Carolina’s Major Metropolitan Areas Benefit from Exporting

  • In 2017 (latest data available), the following metropolitan areas in North Carolina recorded goods exports: Charlotte ($13.1 billion), Greensboro ($3.5 billion), Virginia Beach ($3.3 billion), Durham ($3.1 billion), Raleigh ($2.9 billion), Greenville ($2.3 billion), Hickory ($2 billion), Winston-Salem ($1.1 billion), Asheville ($1.1 billion), Rocky Mount ($949.5 million), Wilmington ($759.8 million), Burlington ($322.8 million), New Bern ($320 million), Fayetteville ($231.6 million), Goldsboro ($137.6 million), Jacksonville ($52.4 million).


1Estimates 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.