Virginia’s Top 10 Exports

Virginia state flag courtesy of

Virginia state flag

Nicknamed “Old Dominion” located in America’s Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions, the Commonwealth of Virginia shipped US$16.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount represents a 1.6% uptick from 2016 to 2017 but a -14.8% decline since 2014.

Virginia is America’s 24th-biggest exporter by state behind front-runners Texas, California, Washington and New York state. The value of Virginia’s exports equals 1.1% of United States’ overall exported products for 2017.

Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Virginia’s exported products represent 3.8% 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 Virginia’s population of 8.47 million people, its total $16.5 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $2,000 for every resident in the Old Dominion state.

Virginia’s unemployment rate was 3.4% as of March 2018 per YCharts.

Virginia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

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

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

  1. Coal: US$869 million (5.3% of Virginia’s total exports)
  2. Integrated circuits (memories): $635 million (3.8%)
  3. Soya beans: $596 million (3.6%)
  4. Aircraft including engines, parts: $424 million (2.6%)
  5. Kraft paper: $424 million (2.6%)
  6. Office machine parts and accessories: $315 million (1.9%)
  7. Semi-trailer truck tractors $310 million (1.9%)
  8. Unmanufactured tobacco: $286 million (1.7%)
  9. Turbo-jet parts: $199 million (1.2%)
  10. Polyamides: $188 million (1.1%)

Virginia’s top 10 exports accounted for just over one-quarter (25.7%) of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.

Turbo-jet parts was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 95.1% from 2016.

In second place for improving export sales was coal which rose 78.4%.

Virginia’s shipments of aircraft including engines and other parts posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 17.8%.

The leading decliner among Virginia’s top 10 export products were office machine parts and accessories which retreated -30% year over year.

More Key Facts

Overall, Virginia incurred a -$12.6 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2017. That dollar amount reflects a 31.4% year-over-year increase from -$9.6 billion in red ink in 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 Virginia’s top 10 import products highlighting the state’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2017.

  1. Office machine parts or accessories: $2.2 billion (7.5% of Virginia’s total imports)
  2. Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): $1.5 billion (5.2%)
  3. Large automobiles (piston engine): $834 million (2.9%)
  4. Modems, similar reception/transmission devices: $661 million (2.3%)
  5. Wheeled toys (tricycles, scooters, pedal cars): $593 million (2%)
  6. Digital processing units (individual components): $370 million (1.3%)
  7. Unroasted caffeinated coffee: $307 million (1.1%)
  8. Shelled cashew nuts: $293 million (1%)
  9. Miscellaneous aircraft parts: $274 million (0.9%)
  10. Radio navigational aids: $262 million (0.9%)

Virginia has highly negative net exports in the international trade of office machine parts or accessories and automobiles. In turn, these cashflows indicate Virginia’s competitive disadvantages under these product categories.


The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchase 59.6% worth of the total value of products exported from Virginia during 2017.

  1. Canada $3 billion (18% of Virginia’s total exports)
  2. China $1.7 billion (10.4%)
  3. Mexico $1.1 billion (6.4%)
  4. United Kingdom $919 million (5.6%)
  5. Germany $818 million (4.9%)
  6. Belgium $573 million (3.5%)
  7. Taiwan $499 million (3%)
  8. Japan $440 million (2.7%)
  9. Netherlands $436 million (2.6%)
  10. Singapore $411 million (2.5%)

Virginia’s top trade partners in North America (Canada and Mexico) purchase about one-quarter (24.4%) of the overall value of exported goods from the state commonly called “Old Dominion”.


Virginia Export Companies

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

  • NewMarket Corp (petroleum additives)
  • Universal Corp (tobacco products)
  • Beacon Roofing Supply (building supplies)
  • CACI International Inc (technology, professional services)
  • Orbital ATK Inc (aerospace, defense industry products)
  • Huntington Ingalls Industries (ships,submarines, aircraft carriers)
  • Advance Auto Parts (auto parts, accessories)
  • Computer Sciences Corp (technology, professional services)
  • Performance Food Group (food products, snacks)
  • Altria Group (tobacco products)

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

Virginia’s capital is Richmond, a city nicknamed “RVA”, “The River City” and “Capital of the South”.

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

Research Sources:
Department of Numbers, Virginia GDP (dollars shown in real terms). Accessed on May 5, 2018, Flags of US States. Accessed on May 5, 2018

Forbes, 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 5, 2018

GeoLounge, Fortune 1000 Companies List for 2016 , Fortune 1000 by State and Place. Accessed on May 5, 2018

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 5, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 5, 2018

United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade (State by 6-Digit HS Code). Accessed on May 5, 2018

United States Census Bureau, QuickFacts: Virginia. Accessed on May 5, 2018

Wikipedia, Virginia. Accessed on May 5, 2018

Wikipedia, Category:Companies based in Virginia. Accessed on May 5, 2018

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Richmond, United States. Accessed on May 5, 2018

YCharts, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Report. Accessed on May 5, 2018