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Gov. Justice: West Virginia reaches #2 highest export growth rate in nation in 2021

State exports surged to $6.2 billion in 2021, a 37.6 percent increase over 2020’s total
CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that, under his leadership, West Virginia reached the 2nd-highest export growth rate of any state in the nation for 2021.

“Our days of being 50th in every category coming and going are over. Nowadays, more and more often, West Virginia is ranking at the very top of the list of states, especially when it comes to how our state is growing from a business and economic standpoint,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s an incredibly proud day for me and all West Virginians to see our state at #2 in the nation when it comes to the growth we’re seeing with our exports. It means more and more places are choosing to do business with us. Not only is it great news for the manufacturers who have made a home here in West Virginia and have seen their businesses grow because of it, but it’s also wonderful to know that West Virginia products are making an impact all over the world, and that everyone gets to see just how good we really are.”

West Virginia’s exports surged to $6.2 billion in 2021, a 37.6 percent increase over 2020’s total of $4.6 billion.

“The rocket ship ride that I promised couldn’t be more real. We’re proved it over and over,” Gov. Justice said. “Today’s announcement is just a fraction of the historic success we’ve seen already this year. We also continue to break state records with our revenue collections each month and we’ve also broken the record for lowest unemployment rate four months in a row.

“It’s truly the best time in history to live, work, or own a business in West Virginia,” Gov. Justice continued.

Trade statistics, released annually by the U.S. Census Bureau, show West Virginia also exceeded pre-pandemic export figures, reported as $5.9 billion in 2019.

Last year, West Virginia businesses traded with 147 countries; the most export markets in five years. Top countries for West Virginia’s products included Canada, China, India, Ukraine, and Brazil.

“This report highlights the ongoing, sustained, and successful efforts in place to continue diversifying the economy in West Virginia,” said Department of Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael. “West Virginia manufacturers have proven they can deliver quality goods at a competitive price to customers located throughout the world.”

The strong performance in exports can be attributed to growth in several sectors, notably coal and plastics. Coal exports nearly doubled in 2021, from $1.4 billion to $2.7 billion, while plastics surpassed $1 billion for the first time since 2018. Other sectors showing significant growth in 2021 include machinery and automotive parts, chemicals, aerospace products, and hardwoods.

Countries throughout the world continue to offer opportunities for West Virginia’s manufactured products, raw materials, and other goods and services. Programs exist to assist small and medium-sized West Virginia businesses with exploring export opportunities worldwide.

The West Virginia Department of Economic Development provides services to increase export sales and find reputable foreign business partners for West Virginia companies. Businesses interested in pursuing international sales for the first time or looking to expand into new markets should contact the WVDED International Division to learn more about these services.