North Carolina is a major player in the world economy, exporting more than $40.1 billion worth of goods to global markets like Mexico and China. North Carolina’s exports include chemicals, automotive, and transportation goods, which are increasingly important to economic growth and job creation. In fact, international trade supports over 1.2 million North Carolina jobs.

Job Creation

  • In North Carolina, 1,248,500 jobs were supported by international trade in 2019, representing 20.2% of all jobs in the state.1,2
  • In 2020, 10,514 companies exported goods from North Carolina of which 87% were small- and medium-sized enterprises. In 2018, 293,300 people were employed by affiliates of companies at least 50% foreign-owned.3,4

Exports and Growth

  • North Carolina exported $33.4 billion in goods to foreign markets in 2021, a 17% increase compared to 2020 driven by continued economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy.5
    • Canada ($7.5 billion)
    • China ($6.3 billion)
    • Mexico ($5.2 billion)
    • France ($1.8 billion)
    • Netherlands ($1.1 billion)
  • Agricultural exports are important to North Carolina's' economy, totaling $4.4 billion in 2020, according to the USDA.6
  • Since 2014, the U.S. Export-Import Bank has financed $2 billion in exports from 159 companies in North Carolina.7
  • Since 1992, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency has helped facilitate $147 million in exports from North Carolina companies.9

Education and Research

  • During 2020, 20,278 international students were enrolled in North Carolina colleges and universities and contributed $653 million to the North Carolina economy.10

Global Engagement

  • Since 1961, 4,732 Peace Corps volunteers from North Carolina have served in dozens of countries overseas.11