Top 10 Exports from Illinois

Illinois state flag courtesy of

Illinois state flag

Nicknamed “The Land of Lincoln” and “Prairie State” located in America’s Midwestern region, Illinois shipped US$64.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount represents an 8.6% gain from 2016 to 2017 but a -5.1% setback since 2014.

Illinois is America’s fifth-biggest exporter by state behind front-runners Texas, California, Washington and New York state. The value of Illinois’ exports equals 4.2% of United States’ overall exported products for 2017.

Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Illinois’ exported products represent 9.4% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2016. The latter real dollar values were expressed in 2009 chained dollars, according to the BEA.

Given Illinois’ population of 12.802 million people, its total $64.9 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $5,100 for every resident in the Land of Lincoln state.

Illinois’ unemployment rate was 4.6% as of March 2018 per YCharts.

Illinois’ Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export products represent the highest dollar value in Illinois global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Illinois.

Figures are shown at the more granular six-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, for more precise product identification.

  1. Light petroleum oils: US$2.9 billion (4.5% of Illinois’ total exports)
  2. Soya beans: $2.1 billion (3.2%)
  3. Miscellaneous medications: $1.4 billion (2.1%)
  4. Modems, similar reception/transmission devices: $1.34 billion (2.1%)
  5. Off-highway dumpers: $1.26 billion (1.9%)
  6. Cell phones: $1.24 billion (1.9%)
  7. Large automobiles (piston engine): $1.21 billion (1.9%)
  8. Medical/dental/veterinarian instruments: $1.1 billion (1.7%)
  9. Aircraft including engines, parts: $1 billion (1.5%)
  10. Miscellaneous motor vehicle parts: $0.99 billion (1.5%)

Illinois’ top 10 exports accounted for 22.3% of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.

Off-highway dumpers were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 108.1% from 2016.

In second place for improving export sales was cell phones which rose 39.4%.

Illinois’ shipments of modems and similar reception/transmission devices posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 34%.

The leading decliner among Illinois’ top 10 export products was soya beans which retreated -11.3% year over year.

More Key Facts

Overall, Illinois incurred a -$71.1 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2017. That dollar amount reflects a 15.1% year-over-year increase from -$61.8 billion in red ink for 2016.

Another way of saying surplus or deficit is positive or negative net exports. In a nutshell, the term “net exports” quantifies the amount by which foreign spending on a state’s goods or services exceeds or lags that same state’s spending on foreign goods or services.

Below are Illinois’ top 10 import products highlighting the state’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2017.

  1. Crude petroleum oils: $19.9 billion (14.6% of Illinois’ total imports)
  2. Cell phones: $11.8 billion (8.7%)
  3. Miscellaneous aircraft parts: $6.8 billion (5%)
  4. Small portable digital computers: $3.7 billion (2.7%)
  5. Miscellaneous medications: $3.1 billion (2.3%)
  6. Malt beer: $2.8 billion (2.1%)
  7. Modems, similar reception/transmission devices: $1.79 billion (1.3%)
  8. Turbo-jets: $1.78 billion (1.3%)
  9. Natural gas (gaseous state): $1.43 billion (1.1%)
  10. Electrical boards and panels: $1.43 billion (1%)

Illinois has highly negative net exports in the international trade of crude petroleum oils and cell phones. In turn, these cashflows indicate Illinois’s competitive disadvantages under these product categories.


The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchase 73.1% worth of the total value of products exported from Illinois during 2017.

  1. Canada: $17.6 billion (27.1% of Illinois’ total exports)
  2. Mexico: $9.9 billion (15.2%)
  3. China: $5.3 billion (8.2%)
  4. Germany: $3.4 billion (5.2%)
  5. Australia: $2.6 billion (4%)
  6. Japan: $2 billion (3.1%)
  7. United Kingdom: $1.73 billion (2.7%)
  8. Netherlands: $1.7 billion (2.6%)
  9. Belgium: $1.69 billion (2.6%)
  10. Brazil: $1.5 billion (2.4%)

Illinois’ top trade partners in North America (Canada and Mexico) consume 42.6% of the overall value of exported goods from the Land of Lincoln.


Illinois Export Companies

Sixty-nine of Illinois-based corporations rank among Fortune 1000 Companies in 2017, a list that showcases America’s largest businesses. Selected examples are listed below.

  • The Boeing Company (aircraft, rockets, satellites)
  • Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (processed food, feeds, beverages)
  • Caterpillar Inc. (heavy machinery, engines)
  • Mondelez International (confectionery, food, beverages)
  • Deere & Company (heavy machinery, engines, vehicles)
  • US Foods (packaged foods, frozen foods, fresh produce)
  • AbbVie (biopharmaceuticals, small molecule drugs)
  • Abbott Laboratories (generic drugs, medical devices, nutritional products)
  • Illinois Tool Works (fasteners, specialty products)
  • Navistar International Corp (trucks, buses, engines, parts)

Shown within brackets for each company is a summary of the international trade-related products or services which each business sells.

The capital of Illinois is Springfield, a city nicknamed “Flower City”.

See also America’s Top 20 Export States, United States Top 10 Exports and Top United States Trade Balances

Research Sources:
Department of Numbers, Illinois GDP (dollars shown in real terms). Accessed on May 12, 2018, Flags of US States. Accessed on May 12, 2018

Forbes, 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 12, 2018

GeoLounge, Fortune 1000 Companies List for 2016 , Fortune 1000 by State and Place. Accessed on May 12, 2018

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 12, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 12, 2018

State Symbols USA, State Nicknames. Accessed on May 12, 2018

United States Census Bureau, QuickFacts: Illinois. Accessed on May 12, 2018

Wikipedia, Illinois. Accessed on May 12, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Illinois Companies. Accessed on May 12, 2018

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Springfield, United States. Accessed on May 12, 2018

YCharts, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Report. Accessed on May 12, 2018