North Carolina’s biggest export in 2020 were immunological products in measured doses accounting for 4.8% of the state’s aggregated exports revenue. The state’s top 3 exports were immunological products in doses, miscellaneous medications and antisera plus other blood fractions representing 11.9% of the total. Those percentages suggest a relatively diversified range of exported goods.
North Carolina is among America’s 20 biggest exporters by state behind front-runners including Texas, California, New York and Louisiana. The value of North Carolina’s exports equals 2% of United States’ overall exported products for 2020, down from 2.1% one year earlier.
Based on statistics from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), North Carolina’s exported products represent 4.9% of the state’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product ($586.1 billion in current dollars based on BEA statistics). That metric is down from 6.1% in 2019.
Given North Carolina’s population of 10.606 million people, its total $28.4 billion in 2020 exported goods translates to roughly $2,700 for every resident in the Old North State.
North Carolina’s unemployment rate was 5.7% at February 2021, up from 3.6% one year earlier per YCharts.
North Carolina’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value in North Carolina global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from North Carolina.
Figures are shown at the more granular six-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, for more precise product identification.
- Immunological products in measured doses: US$1.4 billion (4.8% of North Carolina’s total exports)
- Miscellaneous medications: $1 billion (3.6%)
- Antisera, other blood fractions: $993 million (3.5%)
- Aircraft including engines, parts: $896 million (3.2%)
- Chemical woodpulp (coniferous): $718 million (2.5%)
- Miscellaneous aircraft parts: $492 million (1.7%)
- Precious-metal supported catalysts: $491 million (1.7%)
- Diesel engines: $455 million (1.6%)
- Human-use vaccines: $446 million (1.6%)
- Pork cuts (frozen): $352 million (1.2%)
North Carolina’s top 10 exports accounted for a quarter (25.4%) of the overall value of the state’s global shipments.
Three among North Carolina’s most valuable exports grew from 2019 to 2020 namely antisera and other blood fractions (up 28.1%), human-use vaccines (up 13.5%) and precious-metal supported catalysts (up 7.7%).
The greatest decliners year over year among North Carolina’s top 10 export products were aircraft including engines and similar parts (down -61.5%) and miscellaneous aircraft parts (down -39%).
More Key Facts
Overall, North Carolina incurred a -$32.7 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2020. That dollar amount reflects a 29.9% year-over-year increase from -$25.2 billion in red ink for 2019.
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 North Carolina’s top 10 import products highlighting the state’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2020.
- Immunological products in measured doses: $6.5 billion (10.6% of North Carolina’s total imports)
- Digital processing units (individual components): $2 billion (3.2%)
- Miscellaneous medications: $1.7 billion (2.7%)
- Small portable digital computers: $1.6 billion (2.7%)
- Turbo-jet parts: $1.2 billion (1.9%)
- Heterocyclics with oxygen hetero-atoms: $785 million (1.3%)
- Miscellaneous made-up textile articles: $704 million (1.2%)
- Manmade fibers knit sweaters, pullovers: $636 million (1%)
- Adrenal cortical hormone halogenated derivatives: $587 million (1%)
- Cotton knitted or crocheted pullovers and cardigans: $571 million (0.9%)
North Carolina has highly negative net exports in the international trade of components of immunological products, digital processors and miscellaneous medications. In turn, these cashflows indicate North Carolina’s competitive disadvantages under these product categories.
The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchase roughly two-thirds (65.1%) worth of the total value of products exported from North Carolina during 2020.
- Canada $5.9 billion (20.7% of North Carolina’s total exports)
- Mexico $3.5 billion (12.2%)
- China $2.7 billion (9.6%)
- France $1.2 billion (4.4%)
- Netherlands $1.1 billion (3.9%)
- Saudi Arabia $901 million (3.2%)
- Japan $882 million (3.1%)
- Germany $857 million (3%)
- United Kingdom $738 million (2.6%)
- Belgium $692 million (2.4%)
North Carolina’s top trade partners in North America, Canada and Mexico, account for almost a third (32.9%) of the overall value of exported goods from the state. That percentage compares with 16.3% for North Carolina’s top customers in Europe (France, Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom).
North Carolina Export Companies
Twenty-one of North Carolina-based corporations rank among Fortune 1000 Companies, a list that showcases America’s largest businesses. Selected examples are shown below.
- Alliance One International (tobacco)
- Curtiss-Wright Corp (motors, generators, instruments, sensors)
- Coca-Cola Bottling Co. (beverages)
- SPX Corp (infrastructure equipment, industrial conglomerate)
- Martin Marietta (construction materials)
- Sealed Air Corp (bubble wrap, food packaging)
- Reynolds American, Inc (tobacco)
- VF Corp (footwear, apparel)
- Duke Energy (electricity, natural gas)
- Lowe’s Companies (appliances, home improvement goods)
Shown within brackets for each company is a summary of the international trade-related products or services which each business sells.
North Carolina’s capital is Raleigh, nicknamed “City of Oaks”.
See also America’s Top 20 Export States, United States Top 10 Exports and Top United States Trade Balances
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