Kentucky has recently grown its share of global exports, exporting $34.4 billion in goods to foreign markets in 2022, largely on the strength of its transportation equipment and chemical industries. Exports of Kentucky’s renowned livestock and world-famous bourbon distilleries generate millions of dollars in profits and thousands of jobs. In fact, international trade supports nearly 484,000 jobs in the state.

Job Creation

  • In Kentucky, 483,700 jobs were supported by international trade in 2019, representing 18.8% of all jobs in the state.1,2
  • In 2020, 4,542 companies exported goods from Kentucky of which 79% were small- and medium-sized enterprises. In 2018, 140,000 people were employed by affiliates of companies at least 50% foreign-owned.3,4

Exports and Growth

  • Kentucky exported $25.9 billion in goods to foreign markets in 2021, a 6% increase compared to 2020 driven by continued economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy.5
    • Canada ($8.4 billion)
    • Mexico ($3.5 billion)
    • United Kingdom ($3.5 billion)
    • China ($2.5 billion)
    • France ($2.4 billion)
  • Agricultural exports are important to Kentucky's' economy, totaling $3 billion in 2020, according to the USDA.6
  • Since 2014, the U.S. Export-Import Bank has financed $514 million in exports from 34 companies in Kentucky.7
  • Since 1992, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency has helped facilitate $36 million in exports from Kentucky companies.9

Education and Research

  • During 2020, 8,891 international students were enrolled in Kentucky colleges and universities and contributed $252 million to the Kentucky economy.10

Global Engagement

  • Since 1961, 1,704 Peace Corps volunteers from Kentucky have served in dozens of countries overseas.11