SC exports buzzing at record levels

rburris@thestate.comMarch 1, 2013 

Ports Authority

A ship is loaded at the Port of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010.


— South Carolina exported almost $25.3 billion in goods last year for a 2.23 percent increase over shipments in 2011, setting a new state export record.

Vehicles, machinery and rubber products led all S.C. industrial exports for the year, followed by electrical machinery and plastics to round out the top five.

The jump in goods shipped in 2012 propelled the Palmetto State to 17th in the nation in terms of export rankings, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

South Carolina continued for the second year in a row to be the nation’s leading tire exporter, Commerce said, holding a nearly 30 percent market share of exported tires made in the United States.

Optical and medical equipment, paper and paperboard, organic chemicals, wood pulp and cotton yarn and fabric completed the top 10 export industries for the state in 2012.

Canada overtook Germany in 2012 for the top spot as South Carolina’s No. 1 export market, purchasing almost $4 billion in products last year – a 5.37 percent increase over 2011.

“Our state manufactures the things people and industries around the world want to buy, and our growing export numbers show it,” S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said in a statement.

While Canada, Germany and China remain “very important” export markets for South Carolina, Hitt said, the state is looking to build on its relationships with all its trading partners in the future.

Assisting small and medium S.C. businesses to enter new export markets through the department’s export program is one way to accomplish that goal, Hitt said.

“We’ve got a global economy,” said Lewis F. Gossett, South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance president and CEO, “and things that are made here go all over the United States and all over the world.

“We’re very, very fortunate that we have world-class names manufacturing products in this state that are in demand.”

The state’s 2012 export results “make sense” said Gossett, after attending the groundbreaking Friday of a state inland port in Greer.

A resurgence the past couple of years of the state’s manufacturing industries, combined with more aggressive state job recruitment efforts now and dating back to former Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor’s reign have helped boost exports, Gossett said. Also helping the efforts are “re-shoring” – or renewal of U.S. interest in making products in America again – and global demand for those products, he said.

The Greer inland port will help move commerce, Gossett said. “That’s going to have a very positive impact on our ability to export, and on our ability to continue to grow with international business.”

“It’s a very exciting development, not only for the Upstate, but for South Carolina and the Port (of Charleston) altogether.”

While Canada took the top spot as South Carolina’s trading partner in 2012, Germany was a close second, Commerce said, purchasing $3.7 billion in products from the state, followed at number three by China, which purchased $3.2 billion last year.

“South Carolina is rich in exports, both finished goods and agricultural products, which tend to be heavier to ship and which require access to deep water facilities like the Port of Charleston,” said Jim Newsome, South Carolina Ports Authority president and CEO, in a released statement.

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