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U.S. Exporters in 2011: A Statistical Overview

This overview outlines the export activities of U.S. exporters, with particular focus on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Data presented here are generated from the U.S. Commerce Department's Exporter Database (EDB). Additional information on the EDB can be obtained by viewing the U.S. Census Bureau's Profile of U.S. Exporting Companies, 2010-2011.

For a more detailed explanation of the EDB please see the technical notes.

Click here to view or download the full report

2011 Highlights:

U.S. Exporters and Exports Increased in 2011

    • A record of more than 302,000 U.S. companies exported goods in 2011, nearly 98 percent of which (295,594) in 2011 were small or medium-sized companies (SMEs) with fewer than 500 employees.

    • SMEs were responsible for 33 percent of goods exports in 2011.

    • Among all U.S. manufacturers that exported goods in 2011, nearly 97 percent were SMEs, with exports from these companies representing nearly 19 percent of the value of exports from manufacturers.

    • In 2011, wholesalers and other non-manufacturing firms (including unclassified firms) made up 76 percent of all SME exporters, generating 66 percent of total SME exports.

Many U.S. Companies Both Export and Import

    • Of those companies that engaged in trade, 83,050 both exported and imported merchandise in 2011. Of these, 78,590 were SMEs.

    • SMEs accounted for 97 percent (178820) of identified importers in 2011.

    • SMEs imported $597.4 billion in goods in 2011, which was a 1.2 increase from 2010.

Small Businesses Could Benefit from Entering New Markets

    • In 2011, 59 percent of all SME exporters-nearly three-fifths-posted sales to only one foreign market.

    • Ninety-three percent of all SME exporters do business from a single U.S. location, with only 16 percent of SME exports going through affiliates (related parties) abroad.

    • Canada is by far the most popular export destination for SMEs. In 2011, some 91,811 SME exporting companies registered sales to Canada.

SMEs Stand to Benefit from New FTAs

    In 2011, more than 20,000 SMEs exported $13.9 billion in goods to South Korea, a 22 percent increase from the known SME export value in 2010.

    • In 2011, more than 14,000 SMEs exported $4.5 billion in goods to Colombia, an increase of 24 percent from the known SME export value in 2010.

Value of SME Exports at the Local Level

    • California had the most exporters (more than 75,000) and the most SME exporters (72,039) in 2011.

    • Texas reported the largest value of SME exports ($70.1 billion) in 2011.

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Last Updated: 7/29/13 8:31 PM