South Carolina’s exports to China jumped a stunning 2,261 per cent from 2000 – 2011, according to a new report by the US-China Business Council (USCBC). Total exports rose from $127 million in 2000, to $3.0 billion last year.
That China has become South Carolina’s third largest export market, is even more striking because of the ravages to the southern state in the early 2000s.
Back then, cheap Chinese imports delivered a massive blow to South Carolina’s textile industry. It lost 56,800 manufacturing jobs between 2001 and 2004. Of these 21,600 job losses were in the textile and apparel sector. Textile workers have long tried to block imports from China, but new data suggests that foreign companies, including those from China are helping revive South Carolina’s economy.
Foreign companies employ over 102,000 residents of South Carolina. And Bob Faith, former state commerce secretary, told Bloomberg that protectionist measures would only hurt the state.
The USCBC report shows that transportation equipment is South Carolina’s biggest export to China, totaling $1.7 billion in 2011. This could be in large part thanks to the BMW plant in Spartanburg County, which is America’s top automotive exporter. This new facility has helped make South Carolina become one of the top 10 vehicle exporters in the world.
Chemicals exports are a distant second at $271 million, followed by waste and scrap at $257 million, machinery at $234 million, and computers and electronics at $170 million.
Transportation, warehousing and utilities account for 3.2 per cent of employment in South Carolina, and manufacturing accounts for 11.6 per cent, according to South Carolina’s department of commerce.
Here’s a chart that shows just how dramatic the rise in South Carolina’s exports has been: