South Carolina reclaimed its lead as the No. 1 exporter of vehicles in 2011, outranking Michigan, and became the top exporter in the nation of tires, officials said Tuesday.
Exports from the state jumped 21.4 percent in 2011 compared to the previous year, ranking it 17th in the nation in exports, the S.C. Commerce Department and the S.C. Ports Authority said. The data was from an annual report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
South Carolina’s export growth rate was 14th among states. And the $24.6 billion in goods sold to 198 countries around the world placed South Carolina 17th in nation for total exports.
Automobile exports from South Carolina jumped 52 percent in 2011, surpassing Michigan for the No. 1 spot among automobile exporters. South Carolina previously ranked first in auto exports in 2009, based on the export of BMW automobiles from the German automaker’s Upstate manufacturing plant.
The state also ranked first among U.S. states in tire exports, holding nearly 30 percent of the share of U.S.-made exported tires. Michelin and Bridgestone have been stalwart manufacturers in the state for years and soon Continental will build a new plant in Sumter County.
“We will continue to work on improving and modernizing our ports system, which plays a key role in bringing companies from around the globe to our great state,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a release.
The state’s top 10 export industries last year were vehicles, machinery, rubber, electrical machinery, plastics, paper and paperboard, organic chemicals, optics and medical equipment, wood pulp and cotton yarn and fabric.
The three products experiencing the largest percentage increase were vehicles at a 52 percent increase, cotton yarn and fabric at nearly 50 percent and electrical machinery at nearly a 25 percent increase.
“South Carolinians know how to make things – and we ship them the world over,” Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said in the release. “Both Germany and Canada remain very important trade partners for South Carolina, and China is increasingly becoming a strong market for goods made in our state.”
According to the data:
• Germany overtook Canada again for the top spot as South Carolina’s No. 1 export market in 2011, purchasing nearly $4 billion in products — a 36 percent increase from 2010.
• Canada purchased more than $3.7 billion in products.
• China remained at No. 3 in 2011, purchasing more than $3 billion.
• Rounding out the top 10 export markets in 2011 in order of rank were Mexico at No. 4, followed by the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Brazil, Japan and Saudi Arabia.
“Exporters in South Carolina’s manufacturing and agricultural sectors benefit from access to competitive, deepwater port facilities,” Jim Newsome, chief executive of the ports authority said in a release. “Growing our export base is essential to generating jobs in the maritime industry and across the state.”