West Virginia achieves second-highest export growth rate in nation in 2021

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia – Governor Jim Justice today announced that under his leadership, West Virginia has achieved the second highest export growth rate of any state in the nation for 2021.

“Gone are the days of being 50th in every out-and-out category. These days, more and more often, West Virginia ranks right at the top of the list of states, especially when it comes to is about the growth of our state from a business and economic perspective,” Governor Justice said. “It is an incredibly proud day for me and everyone in West Virginia to see our state ranked second in the countries in terms of the growth we are seeing with our exports. This means more and more places are choosing to do business with us. Not only is this great news for the manufacturers who call West Virginia home and have seen their businesses grow because of it, but it’s also wonderful to know that West Virginia products are making an impact all over the world and everyone sees how good we really are.

West Virginia’s exports jumped to $6.2 billion in 2021, a 37.6% increase from the $4.6 billion total in 2020.

“The rocket ride I promised couldn’t be more real. We’ve proven it time and time again,” Governor Justice said. “Today’s announcement is just a fraction of the historic success that we have already had this year. We also continue to break state records with our revenue collections each month and we also broke the record for the lowest unemployment rate four months in a row.

“This is truly the best time in history to live, work or own a business in West Virginia,” Governor Justice continued.

Trade statistics, released annually by the US Census Bureau, show West Virginia also surpassed pre-pandemic export figures, estimated at $5.9 billion in 2019.

Last year, West Virginia companies traded with 147 countries; the most number of export markets in five years. The main countries for West Virginia products were Canada, China, India, Ukraine and Brazil.

“This report highlights the ongoing, sustained and successful efforts in place to continue to diversify the economy in West Virginia,” said Department of Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael. “West Virginia manufacturers have proven they can deliver quality products at a competitive price to customers located around the world.”

The good performance of exports can be attributed to the growth of several sectors, notably coal and plastics. Coal exports nearly doubled in 2021, from $1.4 billion to $2.7 billion, while plastics topped $1 billion for the first time since 2018. Other sectors showing significant growth in 2021 include automotive machinery and parts, chemicals, aerospace products and hardwoods.

Countries around the world continue to provide opportunities for West Virginia manufactured goods, raw materials, and other goods and services. Programs exist to help West Virginia small and medium-sized businesses explore export opportunities around the world.

the West Virginia Department of Economic Development provides services to increase export sales and find reputable foreign business partners for West Virginia businesses. Companies interested in making international sales for the first time or expanding into new markets should contact the WVDED International Division to learn more about these services.

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