South Carolina

South Carolina Trade Facts​

  • In 2018, South Carolina exported a record $34.6 billion of Made-in-America goods to the world. In 2016, exports from South Carolina supported an estimated 157 thousand jobs.

Exports from South Carolina and Jobs

  • South Carolina was the 14th largest state exporter of goods in 2018.
  • In 2018, South Carolina goods exports were $34.6 billion, an increase of 74 percent ($15 billion) from its export level in 2008.
  • Goods exports accounted for 15.0 percent of South Carolina GDP in 2018.
  • South 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 South Carolina and Jobs

  • In 2018, South Carolina exported $33.9 billion of manufactured products.
  • South Carolina exports of manufactured products supported an estimated 154 thousand jobs in 2016.
  • The state's largest manufacturing export category is transportation equipment, which accounted for $18.8 billion of South Carolina's total goods exports in 2018.
  • Other top manufacturing exports are chemicals ($2.9 billion), plastics & rubber products ($2.4 billion), machinery, except electrical ($2.1 billion), and computer & electronic products ($1.4 billion).

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

  • A total of 6,303 companies exported from South Carolina locations in 2016 (latest year available). Of those, 5,300 (84 percent) were small and medium sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Small and medium-sized firms generated 11.2 percent of South Carolina's total exports of goods in 2016.

South Carolina Depends on World Markets

  • The state’s largest market was China. South Carolina exported $5.6 billion in goods to China in 2018, representing 16 percent of the state’s total goods exports.
  • China was followed by Canada ($4.0 billion), Germany ($3.8 billion), Mexico ($2.8 billion), and United Kingdom ($2.4 billion).
  • South Carolina’s exports (2018 value) to major world areas included:


2018 Value


$19.9 billion


$14.1 billion

European Union

$9.0 billion

South/Central America and Caribbean

$2.2 billion

Sub-Saharan Africa

$505 million

  • 33 percent of South Carolina’s exports ($11.6 billion) go to current FTA partners.

Agriculture in South Carolina depends on Exports

  • South Carolina is the country’s 35th largest agricultural exporting state, shipping $751 million 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

other plant products

$148 million


broiler meat

$102 million



$90 million


other oilseeds and products

$76 million



$69 million



International Investment Creates Jobs in South Carolina

  • In 2015 (latest data available), foreign-controlled companies employed 140,400 South Carolina workers. Major sources of foreign investment in South Carolina included Germany, France and Japan.
  • Foreign investment in South Carolina was responsible for 8.0 percent of the state's total private-industry employment in 2015.

South Carolina’s Major Metropolitan Areas Benefit from Exporting

  • In 2017 (latest data available), the following metropolitan areas in South Carolina recorded goods exports: Greenville ($12.9 billion), Charleston ($8.8 billion), Columbia ($2.1 billion), Spartanburg ($2 billion), Augusta ($970.1 million), Florence ($653.9 million), Myrtle Beach ($319 million), Sumter ($132.4 million), Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort ($45.3 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.